TAG: Web 2.0

On Second Coming

Adam Green’s The second coming of the Web, a satire:

“When Tim Berners-Lee first gave mankind the Web, he made a tragic mistake. He granted us free will to use less than perfect HTML. His tools, and the tools of those to follow him, allowed users to develop sinful habits based on ignorance and sloth. The result was a Web of corrupt data, in which misformed tags abounded. This great fall from grace by the users of the Web prevented it from ever attaining the state of perfection desired by all computer scientists, a completely machine readable database.”

On Congenial

From Newsweek’s The New Wisdom of the Web (print version, simply kill the print popup):

‘”It’s clear that the Web is structurally congenial to the wisdom of crowds,” says James Surowiecki, author of a book (“The Wisdom of Crowds,” naturally) that argues that your average bunch of people can guess the weight of a cow or predict an Oscar winner better than an expert can. That’s why some people believe that an army of bloggers can provide an alternative to even the smartest journalists, and that if millions of eyes monitor encyclopedia entries that anyone can write and rewrite (namely, the Wikipedia), the result will take on Britannica.’

On Growing

This is an obvious analogy, but here goes:

In the network, we grow things. We seed them with a DNA of sorts (the framework of how they work) and then we unleash them in the wild. Wind, rain, sun…we get all those things in the form of trolls, criticism, and fans. We need those things…they each help us grow in different ways. Become hardier.

For example, Digg has grown despite the myriad of attempts of mean-spirited people who try to game the system (some are just curious, too). But in combatting those people, Digg is emerging stronger than they were. I for one really like Digg’s Apple feed.

In the network, we don’t build things fully-formed. We don’t plant huge trees and watch them gain another 10% of their final size. We watch them grow a thousand-fold instead. We can’t predict which way the branches will go, but that’s OK. They’re growing up.

So, while the original ideas are important (the seed), the way you care for the tree and shelter it from the elements might be more so. This might explain why some projects which are just as good as others (like the open source clone of Del.icio.us – De.lirio.us) don’t catch on like the original. They were there first, of course, but they also had someone watering it daily.

Evolution of Ideas

As I mentioned the other day, the Wisdom of Crowds is an important idea in Web 2.0. (Before you start complaining about the term Web 2.0, go read this). And, like many other ideas being taught to us by the network, the Wisdom of Crowds is counter-intuitive. Even so, it represents with great clarity the notion that we’re learning a tremendous amount about how we work, how we relate to each other, and how the world relates to us.

But why is this happening now? Why are we finding so much innovation and ideas popping up now? Is it because technology has reached a certain level of functionality? I don’t think so. Is it because it wasn’t true before? I don’t think that, either.

I think our observations of what seems to be working and what seems to be not working have finally changed the way we think about the world. I think we’re just getting used to the Web and the implications that it has on our lives. It takes years for people to change the way they think. Some never do.

Continue Reading: Evolution of Ideas

The One Crucial Idea of Web 2.0

Listening to James Surowiecki’s talk on the Wisdom of Crowds (mp3) at the SXSW Conference (I’m attending vicariously), I was struck at how pervasive this idea has become in such a short period of time. And the reason, of course, is the success of Google’s Pagerank algorithm, which harnesses the wisdom of crowds to model the way we value content.

If there is one idea that encapsulates what Web 2.0 is about, one idea that wasn’t a factor before but is a factor now, it’s the idea of leveraging the network to uncover the Wisdom of Crowds. Forget Ajax, APIs, and other technologies for a second. The big challenge is aggregating whatever tidbits of digitally-recorded behavior we can find, making some sense of it algorithmically, and then uncovering the wisdom of crowds through a clear and easy interface to it.

Continue Reading: The One Crucial Idea of Web 2.0

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!

On Google’s Transparent Personalization

Greg Linden on Google’s plans for the future:

“And slide 19 (in the notes) talks about how their work is inspired by the idea of “a world with infinite storage, bandwidth, and CPU power.” They say that “the experience should really be instantaneous”. They say that they should be able to “house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)” which leads to a world where “the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache”. And, they say that they want “transparent personalization” that uses user “data to transparently optimize the user’s experience … implicitly.”

Transparent Personalization.

What a *great* term.

On Delicious Intelligence

James Corbett has a great post on the emergence of intelligence on Del.icio.us:

“…with this in mind I decided to test what intelligence might be evident in the del.icio.us social bookmarking service.”

On OPML 2.0

OPML 2.0 is out.

“We now know how OPML is being used, and where the problems are, and I think are ready to produce a frozen and extensible format and spec.”

Yep, we do know how OPML is being used. Information grazing is a big part of it.

The Long Tail of Popularity

Update: Simplified the beginning…

In his 2005 Les Blogs presentation Doc Searls, in his explanation of what blogs are and what they are not, suggested that:

“We are all authors of each other.”

What exactly does Doc mean by this? Does he mean that we author other people’s lives, and they ours, whether or not we want them to? Or could it mean something more optimistic, that we author each other gladly?

Then there’s the problem of popularity. How does popularity fit into the idea that we all author each other? Don’t popular things help shape us, too? Do the voices that add up to popularity author us in the aggregate?

Popularity is maligned as much as any attribute known to man. If you are popular, you are probably not worth paying attention to. It’s as if we are saying: “You already have too much attention, and I’m not going to give you more.”

But I think there is much more to popularity than unwarranted attention.

Continue Reading: The Long Tail of Popularity

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