Friday, February 12, 2010

A small inkling of a thought

Buzz. There's a LOT of it, isn't there?

Anyway, I had to turn it off. Too many distractions in the wrong place. I suspect I'm getting old.

There was a huge chat in the office about it: mostly revolving around engineering culture at google, and how a monoculture can become dangerous. You'll have read the same thoughts on a hundred other blogs already, I'm sure.

One upshot of the whole storm in a teacup is that I think I may stop automatically blurting all of my twitter updates to facebook. I've noticed my twitter frequency creeping up past one a day, and on twitter that's fine: on facebook, not so much. Besides, facebook has things like people I was at school with, and people whose children I babysat when I was 13, and their expectations are very different from mine in these spaces. So. If you want cormorant reports, you'll have to look elsewhere. I think that might be a tiny venn diagram, though.

Anyway, the point of this wittering. Yes.

I was just poking through google reader. I've been harmlessly sharing things there for a while - very unobtrusive, you really had to go and look for the stuff. So sorry if suddenly my random bookmarks are being thrust upon you. Didn't we learn the problem of push back with windows98? It's no better when the people doing the pushing are marginal aquaintaces, rather than corporate marketing departments, unfortunately.

The thing I noticed, though, was this. There I was, very quickly skim-looking a 'most popular on ffffound' feed, when I noticed that a ffffound post had 23 likes within google reader.

So, love has come strongly to Google. They're trying to out-digg digg, by making a digg that suffuses the whole web (sidewiki, reader, etc) at an object level. They can look at the ffffound pages for the activity there, and supplement that with their own love metrics, all cut with their demographic data. It's another way of understanding what's valuable on the web.

Just like links, back in google's original model.

Which makes me wonder: is the link as a measure of value on the web now dead?

In short, are we in danger of SEOing google to death, and is buzz their response to this?

Shrug. Maybe.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I should probably apply for this, you know.

I got forwarded a job advert earlier on today, that I had to read twice to understand. I thought I'd rewrite it, for fun. Really, I should just stick my CV on the end of this, and hit reply, but frankly life is to short.

If it sounds like your cup of tea, visit

> JISC ITT: Strategic Content Alliance: Digipedia from Prototype to Pilot Service
> The JISC, on behalf of the Strategic Content Alliance, invites tenders
> to develop the moderated web resource named 'Digipedia' from prototype
> to pilot service.

We need someone to run our trial website properly.

> The Strategic Content Alliance commissioned a prototype moderated wiki
> named 'Digipedia' in early 2009. The prototype aimed to link
> authoritative information resources on the management of the digital
> content life-cycle and produce a plain English narrative which can be
> text mined and provide an innovative browse mechanism to enable
> resource discovery for a broad audience. The primary audience for
> 'Digipedia' is policy makers and practitioners involved in the
> creation of digital content in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

We set up a wiki as a test last year, but haven't shown it to anyone yet.

We want it to be easy to read, and easy for anyone to use when they need to find out the best way of making things for people to look at on computers.

We think our wiki will mostly be used by civil servants and people that work for charites, who need to know the best way to put stuff on the internet.

As anyone can add to the site, we need to check it regularly to make sure no-one's been messing things up for everyone else.

> The aims of the work are to:
> Develop 'Digipedia' from prototype to pilot service, providing the
> user with an easy to use, authorative, up-to-date and insightful view
> on the management of the digital content lifecycle.

> Build up a sustainable community of organisations and individuals
> working towards developing 'good practice' in digital content
> provision at a policy and operational level.

As we didn't show anyone our small test website, we'd like you to you turn it in to a proper website for people to try out. We hope that a lot of people (and companies!) will use it, and like using it.

The website needs to be full of really useful information, stay up to date, and not be full of mistakes. If you make sure it is, we think that people will get involved with it by sharing ideas to make their working lives easier; both when they're coming up with ideas, and making things.

> Develop an effective communications and dissemination plan in order to
> raise awareness, seek contributors to and use of 'Digipedia' amongst
> key stakeholders at a policy and practitioner level.

Once you're happy that the website is working properly, we'd like you to tell people about it, so they know about it and come and use it.

> Develop a business plan for sustainability in consultation with JISC
> and other Strategic Content Alliance partners.

We'd like you to think of ways we can make money from the website, once it's working properly, too. You'll need prove that your suggestions will work to some skeptical people, too.

> Total funding of between £75,000-£85,000 (including VAT, travel and
> subsistence) is available for this work.

We'll pay you quite a lot of money for this, and also pay some of your tax, pay for your travel to work, and for your lunch.

> The deadline for proposals is 12 noon UK time on 5 February 2010.

Please get back to us tomorrow.

> A full version of the ITT can be found below.

I Think That I attached a file to this email - can you find it?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Negroponte Switch

One day, I'll fess up to myself that this site is dead, and move on and stop feeling guilty for having nothing to write about. Anyway.

I was thinking about the Negroponte switch earlier - the little homily that says something like 'everything that was wired, will be wireless, and everything that was wireless, will be wired'. So phones go from tethered to mobile, etc.

I wonder if there's a comparable rule operating around culture that says something like 'everything that was tangible will become intangible, and vice versa'.

So music - it came on discs of stuff. Now it comes from nowhere - magically into my devices. I'm old fashioned - I still buy CDs, because I rather like browsing in record shops, and hdd crashes have taught me it's nice to have a physical backup around. My livingroom is groaning under the weight of DVDs, CDs... I keep thinking about getting rid of them, but I have an issue with the *potential of not being able to replace the experience*. It's like giving potential knowledge away.

Films are going the same way, and much as it pains me to think it books seem to be next. (it pains me, incidentally, because I love books as objects a very great deal, and once considered a career as a bookbinder.) Cultural objects are evaporating in to the datasphere. Look, here's some art about it.

Relationships, too - the management of relationships at a distance used to be about gifts, letters, little tokens. Now it's about facebook.

The third version of this rule might be memory. Something like 'everything that was forgotten shall be remembered, and everything that was remembered shall be forgotten'.

So- I no longer remember dates, phonenumbers, vast swathes of real data (because it's there in my databases, at the poke of a google - the internet is one huge memory prosthesis come factmachine).

But what does get remembered now is the minutiae of people's lives, and people who would otherwise have drifted away in to the big 'I wonder what happened to..' are brought to mind every day by facebook. There is no ephemeral, any more.

I've been having some interesting discussions with people recently about what this means for grief and bereavement: not the least because of Leslie Harpold's legacy slowly disappearing from the web, but also because of a couple of cases of friends finding out about deaths of people mostly forgotten via facebook. I wonder what our carrying capacity is for our histories to remain present? Is it better that people do just disappear, are forgotten over time - are we giving ourselves an unnecessary burden in maintaining emotional ties?

Is there only so much one can bear in mind?

I'm not sure. Sometimes it feels that way to me (and I often feel as if I would like to quietly retire from facebook, that 'friends' there don't need to know that I'm having fishfingers for breakfast, etc). But I'm an inveterate forgetter of birthdays, and drifter away; I may be different.