TAG: Uncategorized

Democradig is Digg without Gaming

One of the big questions looming around the recent Digg design controversy is how can Digg be designed to be less of a haven for gaming? Well, the comments both on Bokardo and Digg were insightful, providing a huge number of thoughtful ideas. But faithful reader murtlest pointed to someone who has taken the issue a step further, actually building a site without ranking, without seeing who dugg what, and without showing the number of diggs.

It’s called Democradig.

Continue Reading: Democradig is Digg without Gaming

Shouldn’t the Wisdom of Crowds lead to better politicians?

Rui Alou asks a great question in response to my recent post on aggregating individual wisdom, wondering why, if the Wisdom of Crowds is valid, do we continue to elect poor politicians? Presumably, voting in a democracy is aggregating individual wisdom, because each person has their own individual views and an equal vote. (and presumably, there are good politicians out there just waiting to be voted in).

The answer to this question is why the Wisdom of Crowds is a counter-intuitive, dangerous and powerful idea. In reality our democracy does not harness the Wisdom of Crowds effectively, because it does not recreate the three conditions that are needed in order to do so.

Continue Reading: Shouldn’t the Wisdom of Crowds lead to better politicians?

On Mediation

Noah Brier in Everything’s Filtered:

“This is the great thing about the web. It can make people understand that everything is mediated. Damn straight you shouldn’t just trust your personalized homepage to give you all the information you might need, but you also shouldn’t trust your newspaper……The big problem jumps out when people believe they are seeing the whole picture.

Design is like a Hand of Cards

Each design is a new hand of cards. Not only are the cards we’re holding different every time, but so are the hands of the other players. Our hand is our own knowledge of the design project, and the hands of the others are the constraints that we must deal with.

The difficulty with design is that each design project has different problems to solve. While we want to be able to generalize those problems, doing so actually hurts our chances at creating an appropriate solution to our specific problems.

Designs, when successful, are successful because they acknowledge and deal with the unique constraints of the project at hand. When not successful, designs usually fail because someone didn’t fully understand the constraints of the project. It is dangerous to generalize constraints.

Continue Reading: Design is like a Hand of Cards

On Man or Machine

Wired’s Ryan Singel in Man vs. Machine in Newsreader War

“in the future, will you find your man vs. machine story relying on a human-edited source or from an algorithm?”

This is a fascinating question, and Singel provides a solid account of where we’re at.

Monetize This!

Martin Lamonica’s piece Making Web 2.0 Pay is indicative of the growing concern among Web watchers, venture capitalists, and other interested techies who are worried how to monetize the amazing innovative period we’re in. However, I think his piece, though illuminating, is exactly the type of thing that developers should run away from immediately because it focuses on the problem of making money at the industry level, and not the level that matters: the level of your individual users.

In his piece Martin discusses issues like making money via mashups, building to flip, and commodity office applications and points to several reasons for the new boom:

  1. High-speed internet connections
  2. Ajax
  3. APIs
  4. Cheap startup costs

So Lamonica’s point is that it is simply easier to create now. These seem like very reasonable factors for the new companies and products we’re seeing. However, simply having the means doesn’t really lead to innovation…but solving someone’s problem in a better way does. So in addition to technology-related reasons, I would add a couple more factors to Lamonica’s list, including two that can directly lead to solving people’s problems…

Continue Reading: Monetize This!

OPML Podcast

Alex Barnett, Adam Green, John Tropea and I recorded a podcast last week on OPML:

OPML podcast (58 min 13MB .mp3)

We talked about the new OPML 2.0 Draft, namespaces, and structured blogging. Adam talked at length about what the new spec means for the development community, while John spoke about the creative ways in which OPML is being used. I learned a lot about how OPML might be used as a container format for some of the interesting activity in and around other structured formats.

As always, Alex has written up a set of great notes.

Continue Reading: OPML Podcast

On Why A-plus.net Sucks and Privacy Policies

Last week, during the Attention podcast with Steve Gillmor, I made the claim that many companies were selling my information without my “explicit consent”. Steve strongly disagreed, saying that by using their service I am agreeing to their policies. In other words, the agreement I make when I use Gmail isn’t just about Gmail, it’s about everything that Google stuffs into their privacy policy, whether or not I’ve read it or understood it.

We were talking about this the other day in the office. Our founder Jared, whose father is a lawyer, said that Steve was technically right, given that “explicit consent” is a legal term and by using a service I am legally bound by their privacy policy. (Jared has a great writeup on privacy policies today on Brain Sparks. He asks: What are we agreeing to? )

Continue Reading: On Why A-plus.net Sucks and Privacy Policies

On Gardening

Robert Scoble:

“My blog is MY garden. I love this trend. Let me do more from my blog, no matter where I am.”

I agree completely. 3rd party hosted software is great, unless you have a blog that can do the same thing. I would much rather have some service built into my blog than have it exist on someone else’s servers.

Here’s an example: Imagine if I want to create a list of movies, and I want complete control over it. Should I create a wiki, a tadalist, a Vood2do blog, a list on Google Base, a Gmail account, or should I use my blog?

I would put it on my blog. But don’t get me wrong…it is apparent that networked services will grow tremendously, but there will always be a tension between what the best services offer and what is built as a plugin to a blog. It seems that most first features come out in networked software, then they’re cloned and put into blog software.

I have my own networked cloud that I can (or will be able to) use for synchronizing, searching, backing up, and whatever else. My domain. My web services. My blog.

Dynamic Reading Lists

Adam Green:

“There are plenty of RSS aggregators that allow you to import OPML files as a quick way of subscribing to a large number of feeds, but these are basically a static form of subscription. BlogBridge, on the other hand, is able to stay in synch with the original OPML.”

I’ve been using Blogbridge for a few days now, after talking about them with Adam over sushi, and I can say that dynamic OPML reading lists are really cool. However, because they are OPML they are working at the feed level, and at this point I think I’m more interested in the post level.

Adam has set up a dynamic OPML reading list of Tech.memeorandum created from an hourly check-in of the popular meme tracker site. So, every hour the OPML updates to show all the blogs that have bubbled to the homepage of memeorandum. So this is totally cool.

However, the blogs got there because of some really interesting post, because they’re somehow related to the top stories of the day. In other words, the blogs themselves may or may not be interesting to me other than their one, attention-getting post. So OPML might not be the best solution at this level. So the question is: are reading lists dynamic? Or is it simply news headlines that are?

Going forward, my guess is that we’ll be more interested in the post-level relevance, as opposed to feed-level relevance. Or, perhaps that’s easy for me to say because I already feel like I have enough feeds to read (about 200). But I think it makes sense that way, because we read many, many more individual posts than we acquire new feeds, and we’re more interested in the relevance of the information than what feed they come from. Acquiring new feeds is slow, reading the news is not.

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