P2P Conference

I didn't go to the O'Reilly P2P conference. But I feel like I have after reading Graeme Thickins' conference wrap-up. [via Doc] I especially like his list of quotes. One of my favorites:

"All the web logs should be able to work together intelligently."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org


I've got to say, I think that weblogs are on their way to that sort of vision.

Good weblogs that I choose to read filter the current events, memes, and opinions that fit my interests. Ignoring the good and the bad, the net effect of the weblog is that relevant and timely information is disseminated quickly, often times as the event is happening.

A popular weblog, usr/bin/girl, had first person information on the recent northwest earthquake. Throughout the following day, the site was a collection of relevant links and personal commentary.

Weblogs, as they are today don't consciously work together, but instead work together collectively much like Algae don't know they're working together. It's a very organic process and the effect is impressive.
But it would be nice to be aware of others rather than to be operating in a vacuum. We are all living on islands now, but there may come a point when we discover that people live on another island and we start more active communication and share knowledge with each other. Then, instead of noticing something a year after everyone else, we can learn the newest discoveries more quickly and expand on them.

Open Cola sounds interesting in that regard. "Cory Doctorow (Open Cola founder) claims is "the real problem of this millennium: resource discovery, finding the good stuff. Because everything is out there and available, but how do you find it?"

Once we make the leap of being able to discover what is in our interest more quickly, we will be able to add our knowledge/experience base to it.

Another problem with weblogs is that information retrieval is painful. All these thoughts are put out there, and then they fade into the background again as they are archived. Which is a very inefficient system. Sure, you can search for them, but how can you find the information that has the most value to you from the endless plethora of all human thought in the most efficient way?
Beyond better searching/filtering, I think a big help in connecting weblogs is the idea that they are "distributed discussions". For example, it would be useful if there were a way to make this conversation part of a larger conversation about weblogs/problems with weblogs. Not just indexing, but showing connections/context between bits of information.
I agree. Elsewhere, there are probably a bunch of other people who are having this exact same discussion (in the larger conversation you're talking about), but we don't know where they are.

What we're seeing now is discussions duplicated on metafilter, plastic.com, slashdot, advogato, the well, mailing lists, etc. To find a way to monitor all those discussions and weblogs to discern the information you don't know you know but should know could be a panacea. I guess you could call it a meme tracker.

Of course, there are complications with the signal vs. noise factor and navigating through the pure volume of information. There would have to be some way for you to allow people who you think make cogent arguments to float upward through the morass of opinions.

I looked at The Brain yesterday, but haven't examined it thoroughly. Is that type of mental model useful (i.e. using associative links rather than linear)?
I think The Brain is great for one person. But because of the individual nature of connections, it seems like it would be difficult to have a large group using a system like The Brain...and have it be meaningful to every participant. I don't think it's impossible; jazz musicians can improvise all at once in a group. And sharing associative links is probably a great way to spawn new ideas. I'm not sure how this translates to the weblog world.
The innate problem with webloggers improvising as jazz musicians do, is that most webloggers aren't that coordinated. Bad analogy, I know.

A lot of associative weblogging currently tends toward incestuous linking and in-jokes. I think this type of blogging will slowly die out as the medium matures and the community grows closer. Incestuous linking will become associative linking, and in-jokes will become all around jokes (See: All your base are belong to us).

Tim: I think parallel streams of conversation can be good. If the all the online communities communicated with each other en masse, the signal to noise ratio would be incredibly low. Moreover, the variety found between the threads can allow for a sort of independent evolution among the different groups.
You're probably right. Bozo filters and bubbling up would be important to separate the wheat from the chaff of discussion.

But what you could possibly do is have an meta-discussion group app where all discussion groups could be monitored. Let's say I like what one person has to say on most topics, but he didn't comment on Metafilter today. Instead he commented on the same topic in Plastic though. I would like to be able to know that he commented on it.

Or, on a totally different note, I like a band which has a message board, a mailing list, an official site and 10 fan sites. There is one piece of news or link that is posted on one of these venues. Rather than having to go to all of these different locations each day to gather the newest information, it would be nice to be able to monitor them all at the same time through a meta-app.

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