The Best Minds of the Web…

…are increasingly thinking about problems that are not Web-specific. This is one of the themes of this Fall's Web 2, more to come on that in a moment. But here's an example from Tim. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that if we're going to make our way…

…are increasingly thinking about problems that are not Web-specific. This is one of the themes of this Fall’s Web 2, more to come on that in a moment. But here’s an example from Tim.

I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that if we’re going to make our way through this challenging time, we’re going to have to enlist, well, all of you. The best minds of the web.

Author: John Battelle

A founder of NewCo (current CEO), sovrn (Chair), Federated Media, Web 2 Summit, The Industry Standard, Wired. Author, investor, board member (Acxiom, Sovrn, NewCo), bike rider, yoga practitioner.

13 thoughts on “The Best Minds of the Web…”

  1. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that if we’re going to make our way through this challenging time, we’re going to have to enlist, well, all of you. The best minds of the web.

    I agree, very much, with your spirit; but I don’t see how the Web can be the solution to this.

    If anything, the best and brightest minds of the Web have had 1.5 decades to develop the medium to help solve the problems of humanity, have thus far succeeded at not much more than increasing and encouraging consumption (e.g. advertising, advertising, advertising, which is the antithesis of reduce, reuse, recycle). How is this going to change?

    I’m not knocking efforts like kiva.org, which I think are great. But they’re a drop in the bucket compared to the gobs of resources being used to support advertising and consumption.

  2. You are on the right track with your analysis, John. We, well, most of us, now recognize that we in the same life boat. But our supplies here are limited. Meanwhile, time is running against us as we try to figure out the best direction to row towards. Just where is the safe harbor of the future?

    I wanted to row towards a solar future. Pull the plug on centralized distribution systems – off the grid. But, where I live in Florida, those with bigger oars have muscled their way to get to build new nuclear power plants. They will use old, off the shelf design plans that are over 30 years old for the purpose of avoiding any new oversights of the Atomic Energy Commission. And the cool part of their scheme is – thanks to their well paid lobbyists in Tallahassee – they now get to have their existing customers pay in advance for the expense of their nuke plants. Ironic, how there is now no need to float corporate bonds, or issue any new stock for power companies here in “the sunshine state”. So, the clout of big oil is just the tip of the energy iceberg. It is that iceberg that has ripped a gash in our collective hull while the bold captain has been lately observed dancing strangely, oblivious apparently of the fact that the lifeboats are already in the water.

    Our national energy addiction is likely to cause withdrawal symptoms that could rival the great depression in their overall impact on our society.

    So where do you suggest we start rowing towards, John?

  3. Let me just say.. I know I come out a lot as fairly critical of the advertising model that currently reigns supreme over the Web. And just ten seconds ago, my subconscious reason why just bubbled, however crude, to the surface. And it is very much related, in spirit, to this energy crisis.

    Let me try, as briefly as possible, to explain what I mean.

    What is the biggest problem with our reliance on cheap oil, on “free” energy? I offer that the biggest problem is the fact that oil allows us access to goods and services for which we do not have to pay the true cost. We don’t pay the cost of pollution. We don’t pay the cost of generating the energy in the first place, as oil was built up over ages of sunlight accumulation.

    By not having to pay the true cost of our usage, it sends our consumption, our habits, our expectations way out of whack. It’s like living on credit, spending more than you make.

    If there were only some way of making all of us have to pay the true costs of our oil consumption, we all would have to change our habits rather quickly. And we might not have gotten ourselves in this deep, to begin with.

    I see the attitudes behind Web advertising the same way. Web advertising is the oil glut, that lets us consume bandwidth and power and ideas and videos, etc. etc., without having to pay the true cost of all that consumption. To us, it’s all “free”. And so we get ourselves looped in to habits and levels of consumption that are unhealthy. If we were to pay the true cost for everything we did on the web, then we would change our habits.

    And until that attitude changes, I do not see our oil issues, or any other energy issues, changing, either.

    Let the best minds of the web come up with a way of making the web work, without using advertising.. with everyone giving and taking in equal measures.. paying for what they really do.. and you might just have a really good solution and abstraction that lets you tackle the energy crisis.

    Ok, that wasn’t as brief as promised. And it might’ve even been a little bit wacky. But I do see an abstract similarity, there.

  4. Funny Jim, but you’re missing my point if you are equating “the book industry” with “the web industry”. …

  5. I do appreciate the parallels — indeed, Martin Luther precipitated an astounding technological breakthrough when he designed an “artificial language” which would became referred to as “Deutsch” (and which was continuously further developed into what is today known as “Hochdeutsch” [“High German”]).

  6. One of the best things about the web is that many of us can work from home just as well as we can 30 miles down the road.
    We now have the capability to not need to commute as much thus cutting down in a massive way on our oil needs and consumption.
    The only reason many of us are still commuting and going to work is that because of our own laziness, needed oversight -many employers don’t trust us. When I have worked at home I worked more hours and accomplished more. Getting the nation’s CEOs and other execs to get behind this is going to be tough but should be done where it can be.
    Lack of trust starts at the top – with our presidential candidates lying their way to the top now wonder CEOs don’t trust their employees to actually work from home.

    Mark

  7. Mark’s comments have me wondering if it might just be possible to quickly legislate – say through corporate tax breaks – the kind of positive changes in corporate cultures – on a large scale – which would encourage by financial incentives more telecommuting and provide the benefits of less traffic (pollution) and reduced oil consumption.

    Who lobbies in Washington on behalf of telecommuting? (If I may, I would like to suggest it ought to be Microsoft taking the lead on this. After all, is it not fair to say that to a large extent it is their software that makes telecommuting so viable today.)

  8. Ok, so let’s suppose you cut down on commuting to work. That’s a great change, and I am all for it. But if you’re still going online every day, clicking advertisements that get you to consume, consume, consume, then you’re increasing the amount of oil that gets used to deliver all those products to your house. So where’s the net benefit?

    A better approach would be to encourage people to consume less, and reuse or reduce what they already have. But that is the antithesis of advertising.

    To go a little Dr. Seussian on ya.. advertisements are taken out by the people, the Once-lers, selling Thneeds. Everybody needs a Thneed. The Lorax, while he may speak for the trees, because the trees have no tongues, does not have an advertising budget. The trees have no AdWords campaign.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lorax)

    It’s like you say, Tom. Who lobbies in Washington on behalf of telecommuting? No one, really.

    Similarly, who lobbies on the Internet, to the whole world, on behalf of reduce, reuse, recycle? Almost no one. Google didn’t reach a $150bn valuation via the actions of a bunch of Loraxes.

  9. I was recently at a conference where I heard Craig Tobias speak on Web 2.0. He has developed a number of large internal application at Cisco and has just built Cisco’s external wiki system.

    He said that until Web 2.0 the would of computing was governed by equations in the domain of Computer Science but now with the advent of Web 2.0 we must start looking at natural models to do things such as predict the growth of content with different catalyst being variable such as seeding of information, dynamic rendering of information, and folksonomies.

  10. I agree, Mark.

    The fact that language is a fundamental technology for communication is an often overlooked fact. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrot about this about a century ago and Zipf predated Shannon / Weaver — but still: most people have yet to acknowledge the significance of language for information storage & retrieval (aka “search”).

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