Lately I've been thinking about how we could evolve blogging tools to allow people to author more structured (dare I say semantic?) content, so that other people could find their stuff that they find of interest more easily.
Right now what we have, globally speaking, is pretty much a huge pool of blog posts, each implicitly tied to a particular weblog author and with a date slapped on. Now, say I've written a review of the latest Radiohead album into my blog. I'd like others who are interested in Radiohead, or in music reviews in general, and who may not know me, to be able to pick out my review from the common pool in a simple way. Interesting people may come my way because of this.
What we're talking about is getting people to put more metadata on their content. Now allowing it is one thing, and fostering it is another. And I'd say the latter is the bigger challenge. Here are some ideas.
Heath Row's coverage of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival beats the crap out of all instances of event/conference/symposiumBlogging I have seen so far. Kudos! Here are the reports that connect the most into my interests:
Beyond the Blog with a bunch of Movable Type folks. Says Anil Dash on contributing content in many different places: "I almost resent that someone else controls what I've written. The tools need to evolve so I post to this one place, and it's posted somewhere else." Mark these words.
Digital Aboriginal, on the shift back to an oral-like culture. "If we're approaching the characteristics and number of words of an oral tradition, what does that mean? In an oral tradition, reputation is extremely important. Relationships are extremely important. Intimacy is extremely important."
Brad Fitzpatrick (LiveJournal.com), Scott Heiferman (MEETUP.com), and James Hong (HotOrNot.com): Trends in How the Internet Connects People. "I showed up at this Howard Dean Meetup and there were 400 people in a New York bar. It was fully acknowledged that no one would be there if the idea hadn't spread through the viral nature of the Web."
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Making money. Elsevier's Pieter Bolman, interviewed by Information Today in The Future of Journals, claims that journal publishing is not about the "sharing of ideas" - that new ideas are shared at conferences and through personal interaction, while journals are useful as the official record, or a stake in the frontier for researchers. [...] [HubLog]
We are in a pickle today because we are trying to manage 21st century information overload with 19th century intellectual skills. For example, we still prize the ability to recall specific information over the skill of making connections among seemingly unrelated information. We have become a society of specialists, each knowing more and more about less and less.
Tom Munneckecomments on Dee Hock's letter to Joi, recalling his earlier work with Hock. He raises what I think is a very sensible idea: it is very difficult to turn people who have worked their way to leadership positions within the context of command-and-control systems into leader-followers. I presume the reason for this is that it amounts to effecting a huge personality/identity shift. Quoting Tom (emphasis mine):
About 200 folks were there, representing a wide range of stakeholders. I soon realized that these were the very people we needed to disintermediate. Asking them to "streamline" themselves and jumping off the gravy train was not going to happen.
And Hock himself hints that he recognizes this in his letter when he writes this optimistic (but inspiring) passage about routing around gravy trains:
I wonder if you realize that a dozen or two people like yourself with the right combination of communication, technological and organizational skills could design and implement a global government without the consent of any present form of organization and provide it with the neural network to insure its success.
Reading this helped me pin down precisely what makes me uneasy about David and Doc's World of Ends piece. They're trying to do exactly that, make current executives and the ilk streamline themselves, instead of targeting, giving hope to, and helping organize those who have little to lose. I suspect that the attitude shift that David and Doc are hoping for is only going to materialize once this groundwork alternative organization effort is well underway and pretty much everybody has woken up and smelled the coffee.
The paper I wrote about back in November is out. The author and his team participated in (and won) a photo-scavenger hunt. They used a combination of group chat, Instant Messaging, and communal moblogging. Must have been a lot of fun. And the guy managed to get a conference paper out of it! Via Robert Paterson:
John Lester, Harvard Medical School: EVOLVING A MOB: WIRELESS COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Crete, Greece, June 22-27, 2003
"Based on experiences with Hiptop Nation, it appears that by having ubiquitous mobile data communication devices and a successful communal blog, it is possible to create an ideal environment within which a smart mob can grow into a goal-oriented mobile community of practice. Communal blogs play a critical role in the creation of three essential elements of community: the establishment of social capital, the creation of weak ties that foster creativity, and the formation of a sense of "place" within which everything can happen. The final crucial ingredient is a complex goal."
I'm trying it out right now (find it below the calendar). While there are still a few things to iron out in the "blogs I read" search, I find it quite handy. If you try it, be sure to put in the slash following your blog's URL in the customization box.