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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

Published in: Technology, News & Politics

The Problem With Web2.0

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

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