It’s Official: Time Weighs In

While at Wired, we used to joke that we'd know our time was up with Time Magazine did a major feature on us (they did, and it was, sort of – it marked a passing of our hype-driven era). Louis used to say he knew the hippy movement was through…

While at Wired, we used to joke that we’d know our time was up with Time Magazine did a major feature on us (they did, and it was, sort of – it marked a passing of our hype-driven era). Louis used to say he knew the hippy movement was through when it made the cover of Time.

Well Saddam made sure that Google wouldn’t make the cover this week, but the magazine nonetheless managed a pretty comprehensive piece of its own. While much of it is retread, I have to give the author credit – it’s one of the first, besides a nice piece in Wired last Feb, which gets to some of the JAM (joints after midnight) issues surrounding search. To wit:

“But for a minute forget about the big numbers, the millions of customers and the billions of dollars. Think about what’s at stake culturally and socially in the search wars, and all those zeros start looking pretty paltry by comparison. The Internet is swiftly becoming the primary repository of the bulk of human information. Search is the way we get at that information, and companies like Google wield enormous power. They reflect our common interests and shape how we learn about the world with their rapid-fire search results. This isn’t just about dotcom juggernauts duking it out for stock options and bragging rights. Whoever wins the search wars owns the keys to the kingdom of knowledge. That’s a big responsibility. Are search engines up to it?

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Remember the Internet Generation?

That's what John Chambers of Cisco dubbed our nation's youth back in the bubble era. Well, now that the internet is cool again, USA Today has come up with another moniker: The Google Generation. The author of this article, a child psychologist, makes a good point: "As members of the…

That’s what John Chambers of Cisco dubbed our nation’s youth back in the bubble era. Well, now that the internet is cool again, USA Today has come up with another moniker: The Google Generation. The author of this article, a child psychologist, makes a good point: “As members of the Google generation, today’s children have facts at their fingertips. They don’t need information fed through toys. They need to play and to become creative problem solvers.” I certainly agree with this. A quote used by the director of my kids’ school (originally from Socrates, I think) goes something like: “A child is a flame to be ignited, not a vessel to be filled.” She suggests holiday toys that do not entertain, but rather that provoke creative play. Her top ten: Play-Doh, building blocks, costume drawers, puppets, red rubber balls, books, crayons, paints, rhythm instruments and dolls.

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Glimmers of Hope In Video Search

One of my more inchoate but deeply felt rants has to do with the role of video in our culture. I'm convinced, for reasons I can't properly articulate, that as a culture we've hobbled ourselves by refusing to make video – in particular the incessant stream of television so omnipresent…

One of my more inchoate but deeply felt rants has to do with the role of video in our culture. I’m convinced, for reasons I can’t properly articulate, that as a culture we’ve hobbled ourselves by refusing to make video – in particular the incessant stream of television so omnipresent in our lives, a more citation-friendly, searchable, and conversational medium. What I’ve always wanted was the ability to approach video much as we now approach text – it can be searched, annotated, cut and pasted, linked to, etc. I want to be able to say “Hey, remember that great rant by Jon Stewart on Halliburton?” and then link to it or email it to a friend. I hint at some of this in various 2.0 columns.
Of course there are many technical and legal issues with the implementation of such a dream. Fist, bandwidth is still too expensive for most mere mortals to be hosting massive libraries of video. Second, the numbnuts at the MPAA. And third, video must be logged and tagged to be searched – it’s not a self-tagging medium like text.
But there is hope. For issue one, there’s the optimism (if not the politics) of folks like Gilder. For issue two, there’s folks like Larry Lessig. And for three, there’s closed captioning (it’s a start!), and the work of lesser known but really exciting companies like ShadowTV (thanks for the link, Gary!).Worth grokking, and good to know smart folks are on the case here.

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It’s Not The Name, It’s The Verb

So the debate on re-naming, or re-spinning, or re-thinking what RSS might mean to a broader world is playing out, at Contentious and on Dave Winer's blog as well as at Salon and here. But as I've been thinking about it, I'm increasingly convinced that the phrase we're looking…


So the debate on re-naming, or re-spinning, or re-thinking what RSS might mean to a broader world is playing out, at Contentious and on Dave Winer’s blog as well as at Salon and here. But as I’ve been thinking about it, I’m increasingly convinced that the phrase we’re looking for we already have – The Web. That word can shapeshift enough to incorporate the changes inherent to a pubsub world, as Dave puts it. Maybe what we’re really looking for is a better verb. Let’s kill surf, as soon as possible. And come up with something better.

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RSS Pushed One Step Closer to the Limelight

Funny how am idea gathers momentum. As I was penning my Implications of RSS For Business column for 2.0 (awaiting publication in dead tree form in three weeks), Scott Rosenberg was writing a pean as well, published in Salon this morning. He suggests we need a name for what…


Funny how am idea gathers momentum. As I was penning my Implications of RSS For Business column for 2.0 (awaiting publication in dead tree form in three weeks), Scott Rosenberg was writing a pean as well, published in Salon this morning. He suggests we need a name for what RSS represents, just as the Web became the mainstream’s understanding of HTML, we need a name for RSS. He reminds us we’ve been here before (remember Push? I was a reluctant contributor to this 1996 article, which began as an email thread in the Wired offices…)

In any case, I agree with Scott, we need a name. All the businesses in this space are still in the pre-market phase. RSS allows us to connect more efficiently, to grok information as we like it, when we like it – but what do we call it? I like to say my reader and blogs/news sources is my personal ecology – is there an idea in there somewhere? In any case, it’s exciting to see the idea start to take popular flight. Watch for the NYT treatment soon.

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Transparency v. Trust

While on the plane, I finished reading an as yet published story by Cory Doctorow, who was kind enough to send it my way. Cory is one of the great projectors/predictors of tech/culture collision, and in this tale, titled "Human Readable," Cory use the inherent clash between engineers – who…

While on the plane, I finished reading an as yet published story by Cory Doctorow, who was kind enough to send it my way. Cory is one of the great projectors/predictors of tech/culture collision, and in this tale, titled “Human Readable,” Cory use the inherent clash between engineers – who implicitly trust that all human problems can be solved by elegant code – and humanists – who believe that trusting in code alone is a recipe for abuse, and possibly worse. This tension is certainly playing out in the world of search – with most of the paranoia around Google and other search engines driven – in essence – by seemingly cold, soulless and maddeningly opaque code. Worthy of note: Cory’s first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, takes Page Rank to the next level and beyond. A great read.

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