I re-read the book last week, but first read it last year. It has influenced a lot of my thinking in relation to web 2.0, social:learn, learning design, course production since – so before re-reading it, I sat down and tried to think what the key messages were for me, after it had fermented over a year. I think it says that behaviour, economics, the way we do things change fundamentally in a digital world One of his strategies is filter on the way out. We’ll come back to this, but I think it is perhaps the most profound message Obviously categorisation matters in the real world – I need to know that this object is a car and can run me over, or I can use it to drive. But in the digital world any attempt come up with them runs against what people want to do. This is my extreme take on it – I see it very much as a top-down vs bottom up war
John will know this book – I wrote a module of T171 on it. Their argument was that in a shop the information is bound up with the product itself – whereas online they are separate. This has had obvious impact on retail industries, but this bundling with the physical is more subtle – there are a whole host of assumptions it has led to, which we don’t even see as assumptions now. We’ll explore some of these
These all seem obvious: Nearer – you want to group like items together – which means making a category decision Being in one place at one time is really limiting! What is good physical space for me isn’t good physical space for you We can only take in so much The physical space needs to reflect the categorisations you impose on it
I mean, where to start? The record industry will go down as one of the great failures of senior executives to understand what was happening. Weinberger’s quote shows those assumptions again, the album made sense because of the physical format, not the artistic sense. Sure some people make albums that hold together as a whole, but that’s adapting to the format, not the reason for it. So what does the record company do exactly?
The filter function has probably been the one they thought would last, but through playlists, MySpace, LastFM, etc you can easily find bands now and they will be played to you, whether they have a record label or not. We should bear this one in mind when we consider education, but I include it because it has happened, and it’s only just starting, solely because of the digitisation of content
There is an evolutionary urge to categorise, to put things in one place. And we still categorise, but it takes a big leap to realise you can slice things up in many different ways. And that adding more data is the key – but that doesn’t mean adding more formal metadata fields, it means adding more PEOPLE
In the first gen of computing we had lots of physical metaphors – the desktop, the folder. Sure, we could copy a file into lots of folders but generally we didn’t. We put a thing in one place and organised our folders into hierarchies. The 2 nd gen isn’t like that – we almost don’t care where the thing is, we describe it with different tags and populate it across many different places –e .g. YouTube vids embedded in blogs. And also you don’t need to know where something is because you have search – email with folders vs GMail with search. Now when you consider libraries and a book can only be in one category – in retrospect that seems absurd.
Just consider that last statement – if it’s true then we are in for some real social change
We have established lots of ways of filtering – experts, quality assurance, economic barriers. Take publishing – the publisher acts as a filter for us. The same with newspapers, TV, etc. Filter on the way out says – let anything be published, then filter it through social means (recommendations, networks, etc) or through metrics e.g. Technorati authority Put each leaf – things can be in any category you want, and there is no cost doing so. So a video clip of an urban street in the 1950s can be under social history, architecture, kids playing football in the street, woman smoking, etc Everything is metadata – ‘Call me Ishmael’ as much metadata as Melville, Give up control – you can’t predict how people will use stuff, so don’t try and impose upon them
The Long Tail of Media NYT CNN WashPost AP BBC SF Chron Guardian Yomiuri Wired Boston Globe Times UK Forbes Time Fox News Biz Week PBS NPR MNSBC MTV CBS News CBS News CNN Money Telegraph CBC.ca Sydney Morning Herald SJ Merc Chic Trib Reuters IHT WSJ Economist FT ESPN Post-Gazette PR Newswire
BUSINESS MODEL ROI Memo We’ll figure it out Scarcity Abundance
RULES “ Everything is forbidden unless it is permitted” “ Everything is permitted unless it is forbidden” Scarcity Abundance
SOCIAL MODEL Paternalism (“we know what’s best”) Egalitarianism (“you know what’s best”) Scarcity Abundance
DECISION PROCESS Top-down Bottoms-up Scarcity Abundance
MANAGEMENT STYLE Command and Control Out of Control Scarcity Abundance
Two steps of abundance <ul><li>1990 : Explosion of variety of products. </li></ul><ul><li>Now : Explosion of information about products. </li></ul><ul><li>You need both. </li></ul>
Key messages <ul><li>The laws around things change when they become digital </li></ul><ul><li>Filter on the way out, not the way in </li></ul><ul><li>Categorization is doomed </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom up is the only way to cope </li></ul>
Information & the physical <ul><li>“ In a physical store, ease of access to information can be measured with a pedometer” </li></ul><ul><li>Cf. </li></ul>
Things we take for granted <ul><li>In physical space, some things are nearer than others </li></ul><ul><li>Physical objects can only be in one place at one time </li></ul><ul><li>Physical space is shared </li></ul><ul><li>Human physical abilities are limited </li></ul><ul><li>Organization needs to be orderly and neat </li></ul>
The music industry analogy <ul><li>" For decades we've been buying albums. We thought it was for artistic reasons, but it was really because the economics of the physical world required it: Bundling songs into long-playing albums lowered the production, marketing, and distribution costs ... As soon as music went digital, we learned that the natural unit of music is the track. </li></ul><ul><li>What does the record company do? </li></ul><ul><li>Market </li></ul><ul><li>Find/Filter </li></ul><ul><li>Produce physical product </li></ul><ul><li>Handle logistics required for physical product </li></ul>
And when it goes digital? <ul><li>Users handle logistics </li></ul><ul><li>Users share </li></ul><ul><li>Artists produce cheaply </li></ul><ul><li>Artists sell directly </li></ul><ul><li>Social services provide filter function </li></ul><ul><li>Conc: why do we need a record industry? </li></ul>
The importance of categories <ul><li>In the physical world categories matter </li></ul><ul><li>“ We invest so much time in making sure our world isn’t miscellaneous in part because disorder is inefficient” </li></ul><ul><li>“ We’ve been raised as experts at keeping our physical environment well ordered, but our homespun ways of maintaining order are going to break” </li></ul><ul><li>Scale changes things </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: “The solution to the overabundance of information is more information” </li></ul>
Things in multiple places <ul><li>1 st gen – we mapped physical, we put files in folders </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd gen – we use multiple terms to describe files and search </li></ul><ul><li>The same thing can be in several places at once </li></ul><ul><li>Libraries – books can only be in one category, because they’re physical </li></ul>
The order of order <ul><li>1 st order – need to organise the objects themselves </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd order – physical objects separate info from actual object, e.g. catalog </li></ul><ul><li>3 rd order – digital, content and its info </li></ul><ul><li>“ We have entire industries built on the fact that the paper order severely limits how things can be organised. Museums, educational curricula, newspapers, the travel industry, and television schedules are all based on the assumption that in the 2 nd order world we need experts to go through information, ideas, and knowledge and put them neatly away” </li></ul>
Amazon vs. Libraries <ul><li>The absurdity of the Dewey system </li></ul><ul><li>There is no perfect classification </li></ul><ul><li>Physical limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Have to learn a system </li></ul>A whole range of metrics and paths There is your classification No limitations The system learns about you
New classification <ul><li>“ Classification is a power struggle – it is political – because the first two orders of order require that there be a winner” </li></ul><ul><li>Tagging – use any terms that are useful to you </li></ul><ul><li>Folksonomies – bottom up taxonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Data mining – we find relationships between item </li></ul>
Four new strategies <ul><li>Filter on the way out, not the way in </li></ul><ul><li>Put each leaf on as many branches as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Everything is metadata and everything can be a label </li></ul><ul><li>Give up control </li></ul>
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