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The Messy Web

By - March 24, 2005

Adam posts on thoughts from PCForum and Etech, on his personal views and those of his employer, Google, and why he decided to keep posting regardless. Great stuff.

In the end, he writes a passionate defense of a meme I’ve started to call the “messy web.”

As long as we don’t let the ontologists take over and tell us why tags are all wrong, need to be classified into domains, and need to be systematized, this is going to work well albeit, sloppily. What it does is open up ways to find things related to anything interesting you’ve found and navigate not a web of links but a link of tags. At the same time Wikipedia has shown that a model in which content is contributed not just by a few employees, but by self-forming self-managing communities on the web can be amazingly detailed, complete, and robust. so now people are looking at ways in which the same emergent self-forming self-administering models of tagging and Wiki’s and moderation can be used for events (EVDB) and for music and for video and for medical information. It’s all very exciting. It is a true renaissance. I haven’t seen this much true innovation for quite a while. What I particularly like about all this is how human these innovations are. They are sloppy. To me Tags are sloppy practical de-facto ontologies.



Hear hear. Read the whole thing, because he mentions how he takes off all of August, and I am doing the same, though in a more moderate form.

And by the way, congrats to Brian Dear for launching EVDB at PC Forum (it’s not live quite yet…). A neat idea I hope to write more about soon.

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One thought on “The Messy Web

  1. smackhead says:

    Trolls, “Messy Web” and Vandalizing.

    Author Howard Bloom in his book Global Brain states that the five major elements of global inter-species and inter-group network intelligence are the conformity enforcers; the diversity generators; the inner-judges; resource shifters; and inter-group tournaments.

    Diversity generators, that is trolls, vandals and generally ‘messy’ taggers are absolutely vital to the survival of online communities because they are “option generators” but too often those in power will shut out and even ruin the very non-conformists it most needs to adapt to external challenges it does not understand. Challenges like managing internal processing for online ‘hive minds’ and keeping resources ‘open and free’ from the conformity enforcers who greedily horde and protect information (that’s you MSFT). You need the messy trolls as much as you don’t need them.

    The great philosopher of truth and organisation Jiddu Krishnamurti has an interesting parable it goes:

    The devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket.

    The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?”

    “He picked up a piece of Truth,” said the devil.

    “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend.

    “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied,

    “I am going to let him organize it.”