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Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo< Multi-Nodal Me | Main | Listening not Blogging >
Here at Supernova 2002, listening to Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold. (Good or bad, I heard him on Tech Nation last night, cover a lot of similar ground.)
Rheingold's vision of the future may require that people constantly express opinions in order to achieve a status among their peers or anonymous strangers. Won't people get tired of this? Look at reviews on Amazon.com. Look at Slashdot posts. Too much content overwhelms the ability to see anything but an abstract score, even when the best writing rises to the top. This means that your hard-written prose only gets read by a relatively few people, which eventually can make you cynical about contributing.
Pockets of community have to develop, but Rheingold talks about finding out the value of many resources through constant peer contribution, and I'm doubtful that the most likely to contribute will maintain their participation over time.
Posted by Glennf at December 9, 2002 9:29 AM
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I agree with you totatally, and it's amusing that I'm sitting literally next to Howard right now. The deal with weblogs read by a few people is one thing: it's a dialog among few parties, or even a monologue.
But the notion of broader participation in rating as a method of social currency requires a constant flow of people who aren't just that annoying guy who always has an opinion on everything multiplied by 10,000 or 100,000, but a very large group -- in order that niche and mass interests are both served -- that has an ongoing interest in participation and won't just get rating burn and drop out after a period of time. Rather, you want lifelong raters, some percentage of whom rate practically everything they do or see.
I think I'm arguing against myself: if you have a large enough group of people, say 100 million, who participate on average once a month or two, that's enough feedback about practically even the smallest auto shop or largest movie opening.
I just finished rereading Hyperion, a book by Dan SImmons, in which a widespread diaspora of humanity in the stars is connected by a sort of trans-space information architecture. Humanity's decisionmaking body is the All Thing, which sounds a lot like a combination of Usenet, talk radio, and weblogs.
In the structure of the book, many people live their lives and occasionally get involved in politics, or vote regularly, but some people are CSPAN junkies and devote their lives to the All Thing. I'm sure this is what the future will look like for us, too, except for all that mob democracy.
Posted by: Glenn Fleishman at December 10, 2002 9:40 AM
Glenn, this is an astute comment about Rheingold's vision. You could make the same argument about weblogs -- apart from the superstar blogs, most are read by only a few people. Unless those few are your friends, and give you consistent feedback, what's the point?
Even with community ratings, it's still hard to locate the best writing. Popularity is rarely a good index of quality: Just look at the most popular singers, or movies, or books.
Posted by: Dylan Tweney at December 10, 2002 9:22 AM
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