Friday, April 22, 2005

Computation Makes the Internet Go Around

Obviously, I'm feeling my oats today. This is... another big blue-sky post. I weep for you, dear reader, and your exposure to my unrefined flood of thoughts.

This post ties two things together. Two things which have always been inextricably tied, yet nobody seems to realize it. INFORMATION ECONOMIES and THE INTERNET. Yeah, yeah, they're connected. Not in the way you might think, unless you're an expert.

Information economies are all about FINDING, MAKING, and SELLING information. Whether the information is a movie, a stock quote, an opinion of stock quotes, or an algorithm for monkey mating. Anything goes. Now, here's the thing. In our current system, it is VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE to share information with a 'few' people. Once you start sharing with more than a dozen or so, if the information is at all interesting, it rapidly reaches every corner of the globe. It's impossible to stop... and very difficult to get money for.

So, what people prize is not INFORMATION. They only prize information when it is RARE, available, and they NEED it. Which is not very often, really. What people prize is TIME. Their time. They want the information NOW. They want it summarized, accurate, and correctly targetted.

The 'money' on the internet is in PROVIDING information, especially personalized information. Download sites and games are an exceptional example of this, but webzines and so forth are also key players. And blogs? Yes, blogs are key players.

A while back, Darius and I touched on an idea for a game on the 'Google OS', IE a game which was contained 'within' Google. My idea was related to this. People who do searches are irritated by the stupid links and useless data. Google covers, what, 1/3 the internet... which irritates half the people who search and need more data, and pisses off the rest as they are deluged with transient forum posts and pornographic ads.

The DRAW of Google (and other search engines) is that they are PROVIDING information. Customized and fast. But they have some pretty serious flaws, all of which boil down to the fact that Google isn't really very smart, on its own. They've made some strides to get around this but, face it, the very premise is flawed.

The only thing at present that can MEANINGFULLY sort and offer relevant data IS A HUMAN BRAIN. This is what the 'blogosphere' does. It is a GIANT BRAIN. I'm sure you've heard the analogy before. Each blog is like a synapse, and data shoots back and forth, being refined and communicated until it reaches a 'stable' point. Unimportant or uninteresting data is fired and forgotten. Important, interesting data SIZZLES with activity as blog after blog comments on it and picks it up.

Each blog offers REVELEVANT, SORTED data. However, it offers RANDOM relevant, sorted data. If you're searching for a particular fact, such as how many moons Saturn has, it's unlikely that reading blogs will get you that answer. Blogs are good for...

Blogs are good for the only thing worth a damn. Fast, organized, important information. They are not limited by the invisible walls of the internet. They are not swayed much by advertising needs. They are an open source BRAIN.

It would be VERY interesting, I think, to create a program which eats an RSS feed from every blog it could find, then creates a blogger's blog. It would offer summaries (in the form of links to blog entries) of the 'important' things. The things that spark and sizzle.

But, realistically, the only way this could happen is by using THE SAME TECHNIQUE AS THE BLOGS. You get people to TALK ABOUT BLOGS.

If you're familiar with the idea, there are a few kinds of people. Two of those kinds are Mavens and Connectors. Right now, they're intermingling in Blog space, a kind of super-concentrated fast-as-hell version of what they do in real life. The connectors are the ones on which fall the onerous responsibility of sorting the wheat from the chaff and creating the 'output' of this bloggy brain.

Because, as far as I can tell, right now we're outputting CRAP.

THIS is where the Google game comes in. Somehow, using fairy powder, Google creates a game which offers an ORGANIZED playground for mavens and connectors.

If they care, I KNOW HOW TO DO THIS, I think. I certainly have a good idea of how to start. It's really a beautiful idea, but it would be a bit bandwidth-expensive.


Darius Kazemi said...

Populicious is very good at showing you what sparks and sizzles in the blogosphere. It lists the most popular bookmarks off in the last 24 hours (i.e., what people are tagging as noteworthy).

Craig Perko said...

Thanks. It's a good start, although it doesn't know anything about topics. The page it eats from, however, DOES. Hmmmm.