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Archive for August, 2007

Me and Andrew Keen, again

Andrew Keen and I, helpfully joined by Willem Velthoven, debated last week on Radio Netherlands. You can hear it here.

Clay on Carr on albums and EiM

Clay Shirky – who I thank profusely in EiM because of how influential and helpful he was, even though he may not know it – responds to Nick Carr’s criticism of page 9 of my book. Then he responds to Sven Bikerts’ complaints about the blogosphere’s effect on literary criticism.

It’s a rousing defense and brilliantly expressed. Thank you, Clay, once again. [Tags: ]

I just wrote the following to a mailing list where someone had a thoughtful post about the way in which Google both provides for miscellaneous ordering but also structures the miscellany:

I don’t focus on Google or searching only because it’s too
familiar to my intended readers, but it’s certainly a central
mechanism for dealing with the “miscellaneous.” And I agree that
Google’s decisions (corporate-political and the decisions embodied in
its algorithms) structure the user’s ability to find what she needs
and put pieces together in meaningful ways. That is inevitable, though
(I think), and it’s why we need many, many different ways of
organizing on the way out. The ability of a user to find and organize
pieces inevitably (?) depends on what metadata is available in the
pile of stuff. That metadata may come from many different sources —
in the case of Google: the author’s decision about which words to
include in her text, the SEO’s decision about which words to put
towards the front or to use repeatedly, the rest of the Web’s
“decision” about whether and how to link to the page, Google’s
decisions about which elements to weigh and which sites to crawl – but
the user’s ability to find and organize on the way out is constrained
by the ever-increasing metadata present in the pile.

That is indeed one of the weaknesses of the “miscellaneous” metaphor.
A truly miscellaneous pile consists of things with no significant
likenesses (outside of their all belong within a particular domain —
your kitchen miscellaneous drawers contains items that belong in a
kitchen and that fit in a drawer). The miscellaneous as I use the term
consists of a pile ever richer with relationships. That disanalogy
between the usual use of the term and mine (along with the inclusion
of the word “disorder” in the subtitle) have understandably led some
to think that the book advocates chaos. Actually, I’m enthusiastic
about exactly the opposite: The development of an infrastructure
super-saturated with meaning.

How miscellaneous is the BBC?

The BBC has announced a new umbrella initiative called the Digital Media Initiative that seems to be focused on the BBC’s internal media development processes. Given that since I turned in the final draft of “Everything Is Miscellaneous” the BBC backslid from its commitment to radically open up its media resources – a trend I acknowledged briefly in the book itself – could this be the BBC embracing openness again?

It’s hard to tell because the information is so high level. But it’s encouraging to see a couple of mentions of getting the metadata right, including “at the point of knowledge” (a weird phrase I assume means basically that the creators provide the metadata) but also “gradually enhanced to facilitate effective exploitation of content throughout the asset’s life.” No mention of it being enhanced by the listeners/viewers/re-users even within the BBC, but maybe that’s part of it. And, maybe the commitment to “support open standards” will result in support externally, rather than relying on Microsoft software. [Tags: ]

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