Thursday, March 30, 2006

The New Wisdom of The Web

The New Wisdom of the WebInteresting Experts from: The New Wisdom of The Web

The Live Web

What makes the Web alive is, quite simply, us. Our presence, most often conducted at the speed of broadband, is constant and mandatory. Thanks to our activity, the Web has replaced phone books, and is in the process of replacing phones. It's the place that answers our questions in four tenths of a second and ships us funny clips that mix the "Back to the Future" guys with the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack. It's the main news source for the non-arthritic population, and a megaphone for those who make their own media. As we keep offloading our activities to the Web and adding previously unmanageable or unthinkable new pursuits, it's fair to say that our everyday exist-ence is a network effect. That has made some splendid opportunities for smart, nimble new companies, and threatened the existence of old ones now afloat in the mainstream.

Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room - Not Ken Lay or Jeffrey Skilling, but Collective Intelligence

The smartest guy in the room is everybody. Tim O'Reilly, an early promoter of the Web 2.0 idea, says, "The central idea is harnessing collective intelligence."

The Wisdom of Crowds

It's clear that the Web is structurally congenial to the wisdom of crowds," says James Surowiecki, author of a book ("The Wisdom of Crowds," naturally) that argues that your average bunch of people can guess the weight of a cow or predict an Oscar winner better than an expert can.

The Genius of the Living Web

Once users supply content, Living Web sites ask them to organize it.

Two years ago Joshua Schachter began, a way for people to store and share their favorite Web-browsing bookmarks online. Instead of organizing them himself, or even creating a standard taxonomy of categories, Schachter used something called user tagging—people simply labeled the bookmarks by any name they wanted, and eventually the group as a whole effectively voted on them by either adopting those tags themselves or rejecting them. And now has been gobbled up by Yahoo, which hopes to extend the tagging principle to all sorts of its services.


The purest expression of this free-for-all attitude is the wonderful mash-ups, where clever hackers take live information streams from two or more sites and blend them together for illumination or sometimes just for a laugh. An example is the mash-up that displayed vacant apartments offered on Craigslist on a local Google map.


Before the Living Web, celebrities trying to get access to media had to cope with editors, television bookers and program directors. Now musicians, celebrities and fame wanna-bes start their own MySpace pages to get close to audiences (in early: R.E.M., Tommy Lee, Nine Inch Nails).

The Genius of Flickr

"With less than 10 people on the payroll, they had millions of users generating content, millions of users organizing that content for them, tens of thousands of users distributing that across the Internet, and thousands of people not on the payroll actually building the thing," says Yahoo exec Bradley Horowitz. "That's a neat trick. If we could do that same thing with Yahoo, and take our half-billion user base and achieve the same kind of effect, we knew we were on to something."

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