The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile
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The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile

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a presentation made in NYC 2 Mar 2010.

a presentation made in NYC 2 Mar 2010.

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  • The web is the most valuable human artifact ever created. We have no idea of how much we have invested collectively in its creation and maintenance, and while we may, as individuals or companies, consider the return on investment for some tiny element of the larger web, like a new router or server, on the whole the web is growing at a stratospheric rate with no real consideration of its relative cost. We don’t even know how much energy it takes to keep it going. It’s a truly distributed cultural activity. Our post-industrial civilization, in future centuries, may be defined by our building the web, in much the same way as we recall the ancient Egyptians for their pyramids, and the Chinese for the Great Wall. And in much the same way, the building of such artifacts says a great deal about the cultures that built them, and suggests a great deal about the societies that followed their construction. The Web is undergoing a phase shift, a rapid transition from what we have seen since the appearance of the Internet. A move to a different set of organizing features, similar to the shift to Web 2.0, and perhaps a variant of it. I call this the Web of Flow, and what others are calling the Real-Time web. This is in some ways a lie -- because the basic structures of the web haven’t somehow accelerated -- but it is a useful lie. Time hasn’t gotten any realer. But something is going on, and it feels like it has to do with tempo, like the basic clock rate of the web has jumped.
  • Apologies. It was blogging that did this to me. No neat conclusions. A barrage of conjecture, wisecracks, and one-liners, disguised as a presentation. My work is social tools, but my interests extend to what I call ‘webthropology’ -- the anthropology of the web, specifically web culture. Regarding my work, I am more of a ‘synthesyst’ than an ‘analyst’. What I am offering is not analysis, drawing logical conclusions from a set of data, using the clockwork side of my brain alone. I am attempting a synthesis, looking for the big picture, based on intuition as well as reasoning, a ‘whole head’ approach to understanding. This is more art than science, more storytime than than the News at Eleven. And I am not impartial, I am strongly biased toward finding a good outcome for the mess we are in, moving out of the past into what I am semi-tongue-in-cheek calling the Post-Everything Economy.
  • The place that McLuhan’s global village is emerging is everywhere at once. One nice thing about the future, as Abraham Lincoln once noted, is that it appears one day at a time . But every day, larger pieces of that terra incognita are now being explored, and inhabited. It’s an unequal, bottom up and uncontrolled expansion. William Gibson might have been talking about the Web when he wrote that “The future is here already, its just not equally distributed”. It is being built by us, for us. And it is being built without blueprints, without any centralized approval, without even any general agreement on what it is for. The big story of the web isn't the props - the servers, networks, ten trillion web sites, and all the information lying around in databases and in HTML - but what people are saying to each other and how we have been changed as a result. This is a social phenomenon, since we are creating the Web to happen to ourselves. It says more about us that it does about technology.
  • The web isn’t really a swarm of hardware, although it is that too. It is a new medium for expression and communication, more than anything else. Media’s biggest impact is on how we see the world, as tools of understanding, or of meaning. The printing press lead to the Renaissance, and the Web is leading to the Post-Everything world, a world so new we have no name for it yet. McLuhan’s ‘rationalization’ as new media are learned and shape us. We are living in a world where blogs, texting, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and YouTube are commonplace, and where social interaction through web-based media have redefined the prior media landscape, obliterating much of it, and ushering in a new society in which the Web is primary, and where the Web will repurpose all previous media as content.
  • What makes them social? They are designed to support the relationships between people, so the principal focus is connectedness, not efficiencies. Another aspect of social tools: for them to become valuable, more people have to use them. Not the case with Excel or some soloware business intelligence app. In many cases, for anyone to get any value from a social tool, a large number must user it. For social information to change behavior -- like checking someone’s presence instead of calling and leaving voice mail -- many people in the organization have to log in, so that others can rely on the tool. But the payoff’s are really large, once the supermajority has shifted to the new mode. And once they have, other behaviors come along. One thing I learned in the early days in IM is that once people have shifted over to a mode of connectedness, they will always trade personal productivity for connection. People will learn to accommodate requests for help, for example, in real time, instead of treating these requests as batch operations to be handled with other email. The tempo and context of the tool used strongly influences the social rules around the interaction. Russell Davies said “We are making bad tools because we are working with bad ideas.” Are we? What are the side effects of the tools that we like to use? Or maybe the real question is what sort of culture are we trying to shape?
  • The defection from mass identity and mass belonging, and the return to a new social identity, enabled by social tools. I characterize this as a movement to the edge, away from centralized controls, since a rich network is all edge, all connections. Many consider this in terms of the ‘democratization of media’, which really just means it is cheap. Its not really very democratic at all, the social web. It is more of a return to the ethos and mores of smaller social groups, a pre-industrial sort of scale: a social scale. We will call this egalitarian, but it’s based on individual reputation and authority. The rise of social media, and more so, the emergence of social networks has led to a dramatic change in those involved. I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections. The collapse of traditional print media in the US is a cautionary tale involving the hubris of journalists and publishers and the power of defection from mass identity, misunderstood as some kind of faddish shift in media tastes. The move away from mass media is a power shift: individuals deciding for themselves (shaped by the tastes of their social contacts) what is important, and how many minutes they should spend on it. We have wrenched away the editorial controls, and the destiny of media, as well. And once the edglings have this power, they will not give it back. And even the Cluetrain Manifesto’s central metaphor -- of the web as a giant conversation -- is too limiting. There is a lot more going on that just talk.
  • A change in orientation that may lead to stressing different cognitive centers. I am not an Attention Economist: the people that talk about attention as a resource. That is another take on scarcity economics, which people like because it allows certain analogies to hold and certain approaches to making money to seem reasonable. Herbert Simon famously said “...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” The Real Time Web is best considered in abundance, instead of Simon’s way. In a time of information abundance, we will certainly change how we interact, but we won’t necessarily operate from a motive of hoarding attention, which seems unintuitive. We will learn new ways to perceive information as fast as it is mediated in new ways. It is clear that our thinking is influenced by the ways and means through which we attend to the world. Study about older folks using flight simulation software leading to better ‘situational awareness’. Leisa Reichelt coined the term ‘ambient awareness’ to try to capture the notion that tools that stream information through social relationships allow us to remain aware of others with lessened effort. Adrian Chan refers to this as ‘aproximity’ a blend of proximity and approximately. How exactly does our thinking change when we are channeling our thinking through social tools? And, how are we influenced by tools that bring information to us, instead of us wondering around looking for it?
  • There will be no way to opt out of sousveillance.
  • Take as just one (terribly important) example, which is the movement from email to instant messaging and now to microblogging, as best exemplified by Twitter.
  • Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life. Gabriel García Márquez
  • The open follower model -- a la Twitter -- will be the dominant social motif of all interesting tools for the next decade or more.
  • The synchronous public stream = flow
  • The movement away from the world that blogs built -- long-form, slow twitch social media-- to a web of flow. Away from the hunter/gather era of searching for things to read, the RSS inbox, and a sociality limited to comments in blogs and link love. Just as the mass media are coming on line, and starting to get with the premises of social media, it is all slipping into a more real-time world. The great comment migration The rise of fast twitch, short form -- streaming, not blogging Blog hate, Twitter love
  • The individual is the new group Social = Me first my passions my people my markets Immediate connections become the primary channel for gaining insights and understanding, so large organizations, political parties, and media companies want to become your friend. Instead of joining groups, though, we become connected through some lighter-weight association: a bottom-up belonging, bottom-up convictions, and bottom-up understanding. This presages a new tribalism, as people’s sense of belonging will move towards social scale and away from mass nationalism, for example. Our rights and responsibilities are derived through voluntary association, not through membership in groups that are managed by organizations, businesses, or religion. Bantu saying ‘though people we are made human.’ I am made stronger by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections.
  • 140 character limit URL shorteners Microsyntax - @, RT Smalltalk is big again
  • The mobile device -- increasingly likely to be a smart device -- is increasingly important for remaining connected. Texting, streaming, email, and sophisticated user experience are shifting the perception of these devices quickly away from being ‘phones’. Location based and social tools will continue to change the way that we use these devices. 33% of all cell phone users now use them to access news sources. Iphone, iPad, Android, and Windows 7 Phone are going to accelerate the demise of the file/folder/desktop paradigm that goes back to the earliest days of personal computing. A new model of user experience -- based on information streams and not files -- is emerging and will be a commonplace on mobile devices in the next years, and then will be grafted onto what we think of as computers -- laptops and desktop machines. Windows 7 Phone tiles model. Social interaction with others will be the primary modality of all future operating environments, and other activities will principally be constructed to help filter and aggregate social channels
  • Augmented reality glasses will become the standard user display -- Instead of huge displays, hung on walls with giant panels, people will wear augmented reality glasses. These will display on the inside of the glass images that provide access to various sorts of information. Displays will become less complex than today's file/folder/desktop jumble, and interaction will be based on simple eye movements and gestures -- User interaction will rely on eye tracking and gestural interfaces to represent selection, expansion, playing video or audio, and the like.
  • Abundance economics means that we won’t rely on search: search is based on scarcity. Imagine that all critical information is available, publicly, and the most important breaking news is a few seconds (at most) away. In this world the problem won’t be finding what you want, but minimizing the torrent so that you have a small number of things to look at. Increasingly, we will switch to a social connection mode to filter and find for us. Engines of meaning. Everything we want to find has been found, and will find us through our social connections. Like head colds and happiness.
  • Despite all the CPA moaning, and the Sunday supplement stories that suggest that multitasking is making us stupid, we are migrating to a slightly different sort of thinking. Most discussions about this center of personal productivity, but that misses the point. People aren’t always seeking productivity gains. In particular, much of what is going on it related to the desire to create and maintain deeper social connection. One way that this manifests itself is media becomes second nature. We don’t think about the mechanics of reading when we read, and trained musicians can’t help but perceive music differently that the rest of us. We are made better, in a way, by the media skills we learn. This si what is happening as we are exposing ourselves to new sorts of web experiences. I am not preaching the singularity here, just observing that our sense of time, our approach to apportioning our thought, is shifting. This is analogous the changes in media interaction. Most media -- when initially invented -- are rivalrous, meaning that they conflict with others, and as a result people would experience one at a time. When radio first came out, people would listen to it in a group, silently, as if in church. After a decade or so, youngsters had shifted to running the radio in the background while doing other things. Likewise, TV: I have a friend who keeps TVs running on all floors of his house, showing different sports channels, and he changes floors to catch up on soccer during the commercial breaks in the football game. This is why people now talk in the movies, which is infuriating to older people, but which seems to younger people an obvious, social enhancement of the experience. MOG story about the always on phone call. Flow is us getting habituated to the Web as a medium, and we no longer need to singletrack in our experience of it. So we will run a set of channels and ping from one to the other, moment to moment, surfing, timeshift. We are not sharing space online, although it feels that way. We are sharing time. Time has become a shared resource, a shared resource, and in a good way. Our time is increasingly not our own, as we move into a streamed model of connection. Individual time becomes less of a reality, and a common thread of time will become the norm -- shared with those that are most important to you and those that reciprocate. Time is increasingly less linear, less mechanical; but more subjective and plastic. Individuals will choose to trade personal productivity for connectedness, as voices in the stream ask for help, pointers, and introduction. Connectedness will trump other obligations, like timeliness. [anecdote about being introduced to Borthwick via Twitter]
  • The biggest threat to contemporary journalism is the whipsaw effect arising from the social web, now going real time. The social dimension led to a radical debasement of the power of editorialism and the rise of socially mediated news -- blogs, etc. The real time dimension is undercutting the role of media as the definitive source of news, which now can start anywhere. A guy in NYC sees a plane go into the Hudson, and the world knows. Twitter’s community decides that Iran demonstrations are important while CNN is playing reruns for a weekend. And the implosion of old news into news is accompanied by a shift to a new atomic particle: links are the new stories. Links are flowing through the real time web like red cells in our bloodstream. Just as the digitization of music led to the end of albums and the emergence of the song as the irreducible element of music (d’uh), increasingly the ‘story’ around some event will be a collection of links, not 1700 words in the Sunday paper. And those links will be flowing hours, days, or weeks more quickly than what was considered breaking news coverage only a few years ago. Slow media is scrambling, and meanwhile we are seeing new companies scrmabling to meet the new tempo, the new imperative. Among other things, successful media enterprises will look much more like software companies than any other precedent.
  • I am not an infovore, obsessed with ‘consuming content’, using the old media terminology. I am actually something else: an “onfovore”. By this I mean two uses of the term “on”: 1. I have gotten to the point where I really need to be “on” — on the Web — to do what I do. I am constantly connected to a variety of online information sources. But I am not just passively reading, or watching. 2. I pass on a lot of stuff to others, every day. I create a stream of links, bookmarks, comments, and posts that are accessible to various ‘publics’. An onfovore passes on as much stuff as stuff comes in, and must be online to receive and send.
  • Streaming will touch everything, insidiously. New notions of belonging, new modes of distribution of information (media), new management models and economics, neo-tribalism: all will be accelerated by this shiftiness in social scale. There will be a huge outcry against what emerges online. The enemies of the new will say what we are up to is illegitimate, immoral, irrelevant. They will tell us that we are turning our backs on real relationships and meaningful engagement. The business minded will say that maybe its good for the ‘consumer’ space, and the media will say we have thrown away objectivity and embrace nihilism. Meanwhile, we will press on. And new ways will lead to new tools, and new tools will shape us, and from that we will have a new culture, new values, new meaning.
  • Moving to a real time and social footing changes business in every way Instead, professionals of all flavors will allow networks of contacts to filter and highlight what is critical and important. The crucial things will rise to the top, using Sterling’s engines of meaning. Business will have to accommodate a very changed workforce, who have new expectations, new sense of identity, and strongly influenced by the premises of sociality, openness, and collective action that have made the web what it is. The world of business that has sugar mouthed how important customers and partners are for decades will need to take a hard look at the way in which employees are treated, and consider that a concern only for the people that are buying your products is perhaps a bit limiting. We may be headed for a time in which more professionals operate as independents, through negotiated contracts for limited engagements, since corporations are increasingly uninterested in any sort of social contract for workers. Alternatively, as more people become aware of the power of collective action -- in project like Wikipedia, open source, political campaigns, and other web-supported social activism -- we could see the reemergence of labor and other collective bargaining as a counter to global industrialism. A growing awareness of the need for a corporate commitment to sustainable business practices, open and social interaction with the marketplace and employees, and a growing societal demand for transparent business practices is leading to a need for new sorts of management, and principles of business leadership.
  • One corner of the emerging world is web culture. It is perhaps a harbinger of what could happen in the larger world. Maybe it is like William Gibson wrote, “The future is already here. It is just unequally distributed.” I have characterized this (like others) as a movement from the center to the edge. The edge is where individuals relate to other individuals, and derive their sense of self and meaning from these relationships. And we know that this is a human universal: people everywhere are made human through their ties to others. This is how we root our beliefs and our aspirations -- when we are most happy -- and when we turn away from these natural ties, things fall apart. Without that sense of belonging, we have alienation and hatred, we have people mistakenly believing that more -- more possessions, more money, more square footage in their more isolated McMansions -- is better. Various people have taken to calling this future we are moving into post-industrial -- just as industrial growth is exploding in the developing world -- or post-ideological -- even as ideological battles confront us on every side. *I lump this together, perhaps unhelpfully, into the post-everything future.* Why do we say post, when it seems to be intensifying? Because there is no general belief in easy answers. Those that have studied the costs of the growth economy -- the core underpinnings of industrial growth -- have come to believe that is is unsustainable. That we can’t stripmine the earth forever, pretending that there are no costs. We have to count the price of the CO2 being dumped in the air. We have to value the irreplaceable water in the aquifers that are dropping, dropping, dropping the world over. We have to realize that if every person in China were to want the same amount of fish that the average Japanese person eats, they would more than double the decline of fishstocks that are already on the edge of collapse already. *It does not seem that the ideas of westernized industrial growth and mass individualism is going to be sustainable, even while many in the developing world are watching Seinfeld reruns, wish for a refrigerator or a car, or the chance to shop in an air-conditioned mall.* Our old cultures have been stripmined too: the ancient relationship of people to the land and close group involvement has been converted to urbanism and alienation. *Mass agriculture in the name of low cost output has led to the largest migration of people from the land to cities in human history. There are over 200,000 slums in the world today, because people move to the city and cannot find meaningful work. There will be 2 billion slum inhabitants in 2030.* Meanwhile, on the edge, people are discovering all over again, that connection to other people around issues that matter can become the defining source of happiness and purpose, in a way totally different from mass affiliation -- being a citizen of large and unresponsive country, where ‘culture’ has become a product of multinational corporations, churned out from music, movie, publishing, and television factories. *Our old dreams are manufactured. Our new dreams must be bottom-up, like connection on the web, or in wiring within our heads. If we are to make sense of the post-everything future before us, it will have to come from our conversations among ourselves, on a social scale in which we feel that we matter. * Post-everything will mean embracing something we know will involve us, leaving behind our second-class status as members of the mass audience, and become living, active participants in a new culture.
  • The web is the most valuable human artifact ever created. We have no idea of how much we have invested collectively in its creation and maintenance, and while we may, as individuals or companies, consider the return on investment for some tiny element of the larger web, like a new router or server, on the whole the web is growing at a stratospheric rate with no real consideration of its relative cost. We don’t even know how much energy it takes to keep it going. It’s a truly distributed cultural activity. Our post-industrial civilization, in future centuries, may be defined by our building the web, in much the same way as we recall the ancient Egyptians for their pyramids, and the Chinese for the Great Wall. And in much the same way, the building of such artifacts says a great deal about the cultures that built them, and suggests a great deal about the societies that followed their construction. The Web is undergoing a phase shift, a rapid transition from what we have seen since the appearance of the Internet. A move to a different set of organizing features, similar to the shift to Web 2.0, and perhaps a variant of it. I call this the Web of Flow, and what others are calling the Real-Time web. This is in some ways a lie -- because the basic structures of the web haven’t somehow accelerated -- but it is a useful lie. Time hasn’t gotten any realer. But something is going on, and it feels like it has to do with tempo, like the basic clock rate of the web has jumped.

The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile Presentation Transcript

  • The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile Stowe Boyd http://www.flickr.com/photos/lij/1739672/
  • Apologies
  • Web
  • “ We make our tools and forever after they shape us.” Marshall McLuhan
  • Social Tools “ A new category of software is emerging, software intended to augment social systems. […] I call these social tools : software intended to shape culture.”
  • The Rise Of The Edge
  • Real Time Streams, Attention, Flow
  • Publicy Is The New Privacy
  • From Privacy To Publicy Stream Chat Email
  • From Privacy To Publicy Synchronous Synchronous Asynchronous Tempo Stream Chat Email
  • From Privacy To Publicy Public Private Secret Access Synchronous Synchronous Asynchronous Tempo Stream Chat Email
  • From Privacy To Publicy Stream Room Inbox Context Public Private Secret Access Synchronous Synchronous Asynchronous Tempo Stream Chat Email
  • Social Streams = Flow Stream Room Inbox Context Public Private Secret Access Synchronous Synchronous Asynchronous Tempo Stream Chat Email
  • Where The Flow Is
  • The Individual Is The New Group
  • Small Is The New Big
  • Mobile Is The New Stable
  • A World, Not A Wall
  • Meaning Is The New Search Ultimately no human brain, no planet full of human brains, can possibly catalog the dark, expanding ocean of data we spew. […] We won't be surfing with search engines any more. We'll be trawling with engines of meaning. Bruce Sterling
  • Time Is The New Space
  • Links Are The New Stories
  • Onfovores Are The New Infovores
  • The War On Flow
  • Social Business
  • The Rise Of The Edge: The Post-Everything Future
  • The New Web: Social, Real-Time, And Mobile Stowe Boyd http://www.flickr.com/photos/lij/1739672/