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March 25, 2005
Adam Bosworth on Social Software
Adam Bosworth reflects on social software at Etech and PC Forum:
…As long as we don’t let the ontologists take over and tell us why tags are all wrong, need to be classified into domains, and need to be systematized, this is going to work well albeit, sloppily. What it does is open up ways to find things related to anything interesting you’ve found and navigate not a web of links but a link of tags. At the same time Wikipedia has shown that a model in which content is contributed not just by a few employees, but by self-forming self-managing communities on the web can be amazingly detailed, complete, and robust. so now people are looking at ways in which the same emergent self-forming self-administering models of tagging and Wiki’s and moderation can be used for events (EVDB) and for music and for video and for medical information. It’s all very exciting. It is a true renaissance. I haven’t seen this much true innovation for quite a while. What I particularly like about all this is how human these innovations are. They are sloppy. To me Tags are sloppy practical de-facto ontologies. Wiki’s are sloppy about changes and version editing. It is accepted that we’re trying new things and that sometimes messes will occur. In short, it is unabashedly creative and imprecise. I’ve always believed in the twin values of rationalism and humanism, but humanism has often felt as though it got short shrift in our community. In this world, it’s all about people and belonging and working with others….
Adam goes on to note that social software gets spammed (nod to Clay), “We got, unfortunately, any application talking to anyone (we call this spam).” He raises privacy concerns and the cost of interruptions to conclude:
It is going to be fascinating and exciting to watch how these tensions play out, namely the rising trend of people working together and collaborating and communicating over the web in increasingly real time ways contending with the human needs for privacy and reflection and with the unfortunate nature of some humans to vandalize rather than to construct.
As things play out, I’d suggest we will see forms of communication more asynchronous than email, the social network employed as a filter, richer forms of presence, easier group forming and reputation used only at large scales.
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