The Problem With Web2.0

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A rumination on the problem with web2.0 today (information overload), some solutions, and speculation about where we go from here

A rumination on the problem with web2.0 today (information overload), some solutions, and speculation about where we go from here

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  • 1. The problem with Web2.0 Aziz H. Poonawalla http://metablog.us
  • 2. How do we use the web?
    • We consume content
    • We generate content
    • We engage in conversations
    • Prior to web2.0, all centralized via The Blog
      • Reading
      • Blogging
      • Commenting
    • Now, these functions are specialized and decentralized
  • 3. Generating/Consuming Content
    • Posts
      • Blog
      • Web forums
      • Tumblog
      • Tweets
    • Photos and Video
      • Flickr
      • Picasa Web
      • YouTube
    • Audio
      • Last.fm
      • Podcasts
    • Email
      • Direct
      • Lists
    • Links
      • Del.icio.us
      • Google reader Shared Items
      • Facebook Shared Items
      • Twitter
    • Status
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Gtalk
  • 4. Conversations
    • Friends (1-1)
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Friendfeed
      • Email
    • Groups (1-many)
      • Facebook (rooms)
      • Friendfeed
      • Blog comments
      • Web forums
      • Private email lists
    • Public (many-many)
      • Blog comments
      • Friendfeed
      • Web forums
      • Public email lists
  • 5. Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
    • Signal: stuff you want
    • Noise: stuff you don’t
    • SNR scales inversely with:
      • Number of content sources
      • Number of friends (social web)
      • Number of contacts (email)
    • To improve SNR, need to increase signal and/or decrease noise
    • Problem : noise scales with signal!
  • 6. Social Noise
    • Conversations blur the line between creating and consuming content
    • Multiple channels result in redundant content
      • Same blog post by a given author might reach you via twitter, delicious, FF, etc.
      • Same status updates appear on twitter, identi.ca, plurk, facebook
    • Fragmented conversations across blog comments, FF
  • 7. Filtering sucks
    • Many services claim to reduce noise, but are actually reducing signal
      • AideRSS PostRank (algorithmic)
      • Digg (communal)
      • Techmeme (algorithmic)
    • Echo chamber effects
    • Filters invariably make assumptions about what you consider signal
      • By relationships
      • By concensus
      • By popularity
  • 8. Solution 1: Segregate services
    • Define specific roles for each social service
      • Inputs: mediums where you exclusively create content
      • Outputs: mediums where you exclusively promote content
      • Venues: mediums where you exclusively discuss content
    • “ Simplify, Simplify” – Henry David Thoreau
  • 9. Solution 2: reduce signal
    • Seems counterintuitive at first
    • Avoid the A-listers, just pick one or two (Scoble, Winer, etc)
    • Declare email independence [1]
    • Resist temptation
      • New web services appear weekly
      • Easy to get spread too thin
      • Most are novel, few are useful
      • Avoid redundancy
    • Cull the herd
      • Use your Google Reader statistics to see which feeds you barely read
      • Avoid reading primary sources (ie BBC), rely on linkers instead (i.e. NewsJunk)
    • [1] http://www.metablog.us/social/declaration-of-email-independence/
  • 10. Solution 3: be elitist
    • Following/friending too many people on Twitter, Facebook etc results in a firehose of updates
      • Impossible to see everything
      • Most people follow many but interact with few
    • Some improvement is possible
      • Twitter needs a “mark user as read” [1]
      • Facebook needs more fine-grained control over your news feed filtering
    • Fundamental limit to number of human interactions: Dunbar’s Number [2]
    • [1] http://www.metablog.us/blogging/twitter-needs-mark-user-as-read/
      • [2] http://www.haibane.info/2007/11/20/social-linkages-online/
  • 11. Solution 4: metadata
    • Semantic Web
      • Advantages: structured data
      • Disadvantages: data must be structured (by something or someone)
    • Folksonomy
      • Folksonomy is not Taxonomy! [1]
      • Scalable, distributed, organic
      • Genuine wisdom of crowds (diversity) rather than groupthink [2]
      • Represents actual human query terms
      • Even the disadvantage (meta-noise [3]) is really an advantage
        • Overtagging creates multiple entry points
        • Actually increases likelihood a user will find the content
    • [1] http://www.metablog.us/content/taxonomy-versus-folksonomy/
    • [2] http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/sometimes_crowds_arent_that_wise.php
    • [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_noise
  • 12. Inflection point
    • Web 2.0 represents an evolutionary decision point
      • How do we handle super-connectivity?
      • How do we handle information overload?
    • Present growth in social services is unsustainable
      • Human attention is a finite resource
      • Risk fragmenting into online silos
    • Algorithms cannot save us
  • 13. Folksonomy is the Future
    • WP-Folksonomy plugin
      • Allows readers to tag posts
      • Access level controlled by site admin
      • Demos: www.talkislam.info , www.haibane.info
    • WP-Tagdex
      • (does not exist… yet [1])
      • Represent tags as an index rather than a cloud
      • Literally, human-powered index of the entire web
    • Combination could render algorithmic search obsolete!
    • [1] http://www.metablog.us/content/beyond-the-tag-cloud-the-tagdex/
  • 14. Web 3.0?
    • OpenFriend API: allow friend/follower relationships to exist independently
      • Social media sites would reference the API to “import” your existing friend relationships
      • Distributed, open architecture akin to OpenID (anyone can run an OpenFriend server)
    • Blur the line between social media and MMORPGs
      • 3D environment is just a GUI for a giant social network
      • Social networks are already “second life”, with business and pleasure transactions
    • Search engines supplanted by RSS streams created in real-time from tag queries
      • Live, media-rich data
      • Relevance of results to search intent is inherently superior
      • Return of the “phone book” model of information retrieval
  • 15. Web 4.0?
    • Ubiquitous connectivity
      • WiMax, 4G devices
      • Device convergence: GPS/cell/PDA/
    • All online activity geotagged by default
      • Location information becomes as important as URL
      • “ Local” connections will dominate our attention
    • Online and offline distinction becomes less meaningful
      • Online “layer” over reality?
      • Fictional inspiration: Serial Experiments Lain, Dennou Coil
  • 16. Future
    • What web?
    • (I am a singularity skeptic [1])
    • 5 billion people worldwide still have no web access
    • broadband in the US lags far behind Asia (here: 5 MBps, there: 100 Mbps)
    • Conclusion: no matter how the web evolves, impact still limited to tiny fraction of humankind
    • [1] http://www.haibane.info/2008/03/02/singularity-skeptic/