I’m not sure i fully get the map-based model that Clay is espousing, but i can buy that we view the world from a different point of view. It’s also no accident that i claim my primary identity as an academic and Clay, while at an academic institution, does not. Perhaps it’ll help if i try to clarify some of my model and situate it in Clay’s mapping.
Part of how my model works, and i think that this fits into Clay’s Cartesian map, is that i don’t care if a new artifact is better than an old artifact. In other words, i have no interest in comparing Wikipedia to the encyclopedia. Grr to them both - they don’t solve the underlying problems that bother me. It’s like telling me that PPOs are better than HMOs when i want a health care system that universally helps people. I also can’t even fathom factoring out anything that is still bad from Point A to Point B, particularly when they are the most salient features of the problem. To me, framing it in the world of encyclopedias is about doing horizontal moves. And i definitely get frustrated when people get so excited about horizontal moves because they stop putting energy into moving vertically, into truly solving the underlying problems that are salient.
But Clay’s right - i like research and i’m interested in solving big problems even if it takes a while. I don’t like doing incrementalism because it takes so much cultural and cognitive energy to make any shift that i’d rather see people not expend the energy for each new little advancement - we all got sick of joining the next social networking service. Now that we’ve burnt out on horizontal, there’s very little energy to actually solve the vertical problems.
Of course, unlike other pure academics, i do actually have an appreciation for the tools that emerge out of incremental change or that are pretty darn flawed. I do appreciate Wikipedia. I do appreciate the social networking services. I do appreciate blogging. I mostly appreciate them for the cultural shifts that happen though, not for the technology itself. Many of my colleagues are stuck on the fact that there’s no radical technology shift. That said, i refuse to believe that it’s THE solution to anything and i don’t want energy to be lost congratulating each other when there are still big problems to solve - technologically and socially.
My love of cultural change first and foremost is what makes me appreciate social software at a core level. And one of the reasons that i only have so much patience for research is that i want to see things deployed and creating shifts. But, i always want to take it a step further, i always want to go deeper. I want to see huge waves of social change and then take a step back and make another huge wave, not a bazillion duplicates that burn everyone out to make a buck or follow a trend. Boring. So the canonical tools, the ones that make the first wave of huge change - these are the things i follow. To understand the wave.
Oh, given that others have assumed that Clay and i are vicious enemies, i would like to affirm my admiration and love for him as well. We bicker because we love each other to bits and we’re both invested in knowledge even when we think the other nutso.