urprisingly, the book is still on a few shelves! Which is lovely, of course, but I don’t update this site much these days. I’ve put links to two of the most evergreen chapters in the right-hand column here: Chapter 2, History of Open Discourse and Chapter 6, History of Journalism. Feel free to comment.
These days, you can find me on a variety of services. Click any of the links below to stay in touch.
If you’d like to visit a site that compiles many of the submissions to the above services, check out:
anny Hillis never thinks small. One of his recent projects is a clock for the Long Now Foundation that is intended to last ten thousand years. Yesterday Hillis launched freebase, a wiki-like database that he and his crew hope will become a true “data commons,” collecting and somehow making sense of vast stores of information on every topic. Seeded with large chunks of Wikipedia and other resources like musicbrainz, freebase invites the public to not only add to the knowledge base, but to port what they like to their own pages, thanks to open APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and Creative Commons Attribution licenses.
At first blush, freebase sounds a bit like Google Base, a repository for user-uploaded information that launched a little over a year ago. What distinguishes freebase, however, is its combination of community-generated information with a cunning overlay of descriptive metadata. Web 2.0 meets the Semantic Web.
If enough people upload content to freebase and tag it intelligently, freebase could signal the next step beyond Google and other search engines that return long pages of possible matches based on algorithmic computations. Theoretically, freebase could return an actual answer to your query, one constructed from hints hidden in those interlinked metadata tags. It’s a noble goal and one that Hillis might just be up to.
oday, Google launched a news search service that lets us sift through 200 years of news reports from publications both grand in scale and local. Called News Archive Search, the service mines more than just the usual web search fare. Drawing on content contributed from venerable publishers like Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian, as well as aggregators like Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale and HighBeam Research, the service provides a kind of historical record for specific search topics, replete with a “timeline” link that sorts entries chronologically. Not all the referenced documents are free, but in the least, researchers will be be aware of the breadth of content available to them.
mong the points I find myself mulling regularly is the problem of discovery. How do we find blog posts, news items, web pages, and philosophical soulmates amidst all this glut?
One of the best thinkers worrying this problem is Nicolas Carr, who yesterday wrote a post called The Great Unread on his Rough Type blog. In it he laments the concentration of links accruing to a few already well-known blogs and the difficulty the rest of us face in finding readers for our own blogs, as well as finding other bloggers who suit our fancies along that ever lengthening Long Tail. I strongly encourage you to read Carr on the topic, but I’m among those who’d like to believe there may be some relief as better recommendation engines and collaborative filtering solutions come down the pike. A post today by an old workmate, Matt McAlister (who’s now at Yahoo), titled My personal blogger hierarchy echoes some of my own thoughts on the topic. Matt writes:
I suspect that the idea of the blogosphere and the blog elite is a temporary one. The blogger hierarchy does not make the substance of a post any more or less valuable. Ultimately, that value is completely up to me, not some shallow power structure.
I’d love to hear from any readers how they think this may all play out and what any of us might do to help with the problem.