Archive for October, 2005
For the past several weeks I have been thinking a lot about tagspaces and have organized these thoughts at TagSpaces.org as an open proposal as a new way to think about tagging that does not require the rel tag, new technologies or drastic changes in human behaviour (though it still requires us to evangelize tagging of course). In my view, tagspaces are the glue between people identifying something and those seeking it out – the tag agreed upon by a particular community of users for how to desribe something, provide it context and perhaps even include the ID/reputation of the tagger.
In a sense, it is a human powered, open subsidy for search technology as well as tagging technology – but that is not important, what is important is that we can collectively improve search with a very minor modification to our current behaviour. I actually first blogged about this last week in regards to how I was going to use tagspaces for BrainJams so people with different levels of interest regarding the event, the planning and the content could follow what was important to them more easily (i.e. BrainJams:Planning, BrainJams:BayArea)
Some other examples of tagspaces might be:
The beauty of this is people can use it now without any code deployment on the part of anyone and existing search technologies can understand it to produce better results today. All people need to do is start using the format and try to figure out what works best for them. All I am asking of you my dear friend, is to consider the idea, contribute your thoughts to the process via our Wiki and if it feels good to you, start using this loose format for tagging posts, photos, podcasts or whatever else – then share with us which tags you are using and under what conditions and we will probably figure this out together pretty easily. After all the tags are simple, readable, understandable AND parseable by machine.
Or we could form a steering committee, talk about it for a few months, argue with each other, fight over our egos, hold on to the old way of things and do nothing that advances our cause while investing our energy in mental gymnastics. As the world of Web 2.0 has shown us – get it out there in the hands of the users and see what they do with it – engage with real people to understand their needs and adjust your solution to meet them. But we, the creators, need to let go of the idea of total control over users in an open wooly environment created by folksonomies rather than top down taxonomies.
Another benefit to this approach is that it need not exist as a rel link on the page so people need not give Google Juice to technorati or anyone else – it can just be a string of text inside of your post, or in the keyword field, or in the rel tag area – almost like SMS shorthand (CUL8R), but for tags. The pattern reads as seemingly normal text so I think a lot of people will get it, but that is what I want to find out. It need not work, it need not be called TagSpaces in the end, what is important is that we started the conversation with people who use tags to figure it out together.
Identity could be a part of it, but it does not have to be. It also does not need to rely on people to have an iName. While they wont get the persistent identity benefits of a registered digital ID which I do think they would benefit from, an email address is plenty of identity for many people in the world and has been for over a decade. For some people their email address is the equivalent of a URL pointing to them so why not accept it and stop trying to force change on people who don’t want, or need to change. We should just embrace the chaos and accept that some people will tag things properly, some won’t, some will make typos, others will simply have another way of referencing the same thing.
So let’s not only teach people how to tag, let’s teach them how to search – this is the power of TagSpaces as I envision it.
If we plant a seed of intention, in the form of examples spread across the entire ‘tagging universe’ other people (even our grandparents) will be able to understand it and perhaps, start using it. What I want to do with tagspaces.org is create a place where people can talk about which tagspaces they use, how they use them, identify synonyms and create relationships between tags. A sort of wiktionary for tagging based around some commonly agreed upon principles. But, please do understand this is not about me, it is about doing it right and coming together to refine it as we conduct an open alpha release to better understand how to do it best.
In conclusion, the approach I am suggesting requires no technical changes to any of the current technologies. There are problems with it, but they do not make this idea any less useful considering the current tagging landscape. But in all actuality, this is just the recognition of an emergent pattern within tags and a desire to help seed the idea towards a better solution – the downside is no worse than where we are today…
This has been a constant theme for me over the past week or so. In this emerging era of Internet innovation, more people than ever are concerned with promoting the value of our new tools into the minds, hearts and hands of real people – to cross the chasm and digital divide to increase participation, collaboration, connectedness and ultimately the value of the web. Phil Wolf even spoke of forming a “PR Working Group” – which is what we have proposed out of BrainJams – so this is a really cool trend that is emerging.
I think the real solution though is relatively simple, we need to develop the use cases, the user stories, the anecdotes for how regular, non-technical people use and benefit from these technologies. To leverage my other new meme, all we need to do is claim a TagSpace and start blogging and tagging all the stories we have. A planetblog aggregator could manage the feeds and everyone can start to read them. On top of this, we can use a Wiki to collect the “use cases for teaching others”. We can set this up at TagSpaces.org or any place else. The tagspace I suggest for the stories is:
An interesting, and seemingly unrelated, but totally relevant book I read a while back was the Pentagon’s New Map – it spoke of global conflicts as being byproducts of the “non-integrating gap” – essentially those countries in the middle who are not participating in the global economy via trade or cultural exchange not understanding or gaining value from getting along with everyone else. It may be a stretch, but I see this as analgous to what we are talking about here. It might be an interesting read if you have an interest in spreading the word. Think of it as a similar pattern rather than getting focused on the defense/war aspects of the content.
As someone who is terrible at citing research in my posts I am acutely aware of this problem (mostly because I don’t index what I read well and because linking is still hard for most tools, though I am migrating to Ecto and perhaps Flock once stable). This is why I am often very careful in giving out props to people who have inspired the things I think about. I find the more people I talk to, the less this is happening – some people believe all ideas have been invented before – I believe that the perspective going into the sharing of the idea from a unique perspective can often be an original detivitive work.
But I dont want to get that technical with it – I just want to encourage people to give props out to others when they are inspired to a new idea… I will certainly be doing my best to do so as my blogging evolves. For instance, I still need to build a list of thanks to all the people who are helping organize the next BrainJam, which will be coming tomorrow after TagCamp.
No let’s see if anyone else over at rel=”tag”>TagCamp is actually interested in this. It will involve a lot of people letting go of the illusion of control over user experiences and other fascinating things.
What it means to me is the beginning of truly people powered search – one of the catalytic elements required to solve the search problem and so much more…
Join me in talking about it over at TagSpaces.org
Tagspaces is an open variant on the original idea I had for Insytes. While I pitched Insytes as the Web 2,0 replacement for comment systems, it was always much more. Another description I often used was as a personal organizer of knowledge with group capabilities as well as public sharing/publishing. But it also was for building reputation and claiming subject matter expertise that would be validated by a conversational community around topic tags with some conversational agreement by users rather than creators. After all isn’t that why we have found that folksonomy works and taxonomies often fail? .
But even that is not enough. As I was reminded the past 2 days at the IIW2005 – Internet Identity Workshop, you must consider the matter of verifiable Identity – which then must be considered in “context”. What the industry refers to as context (a view of a builder talking about you) I consider it the “situation” because that is where I see people looking out – from their unique situation. Others might want to call it a scenario, or perhaps a use case, though that is too specific I feel, but as some very smart people have said, (Was that Doc Searls?) it does not matter what you call it, just as long as other people understand what you are referencing.
The situation/context of identity for Insytes is what I consider the Open Commons of Knowledge, Information and Wisdom– in this context, people would be opting into the system because they want to be known for who they are. The social and economic capital derived from being ones self is invaluable. Speakers, bloggers, writers, video journalists, vloggers, podcasters, photographers, designers – everyone who creates something for more than just themselves. Of course I know of the exceptions where anonymity is a necessity (whistleblowers, oppressed citizenry etc…) but if someone has a legitimate reason to be playing in the commons and creating stuff, they more often than not want to be identified with the work – or at least a claimed pseudonym as authors have often used in the past.
This is why I still think that Creative Commons needs to be the identity provider – people would be willing to trust them, the license is in wide use and gaining wider adoption and it would make validating a work that much easier for the legal system. Of course, I also think there needs to be Commons Licensing Bureau that manages the sale/licensing of the works to others, but we can talk about that later….
Ok moving past the IIW2005 influences, later today I will be posting the initial draft to serve as a starting point for TagSapces.
(PS – need to adds more links to this article in next rev)
I have received some good private feedback, but not much in terms of public contributions. So onward I press. And press onward I must.
Was just reaching out to someone I met online over the summer to see if they might be able to help in some way with BrainJams. Phil has a great blog called GeekyInfo and works with the Northern Community Church of Christ down in Austrailia. He lokes gadgets, games, knowledge, helping people and mindmapping – a lot like me.
Anyways the point is that I think I have finally simplified the mission statement and really, really need to hear back from you on this one. For me, it is a one liner that has the right focus, attitude, intention, description and everything else.
BrainJams are events that connect people, resources and ideas to make the world a better place.
Ok, so the last bit could be more directed perhaps, but it feels a lot better to me than the other ones, though there is more to take from those still so please do consider those statements as well.
The struggle with the mission statement stems from the seemingly still to be decided question of Web2.1 vs. BrainJams. Web 2.1 focused on Web 2.0 technologies and the need to really put people at the center of the design/development process – going even beyond user centered design. I think it is important to include the idea of having the “bllinking 12’s” and the “technogeeks” learn to speak the same language, trust one another and collaborate, but that is not the core idea. The core idea is embodied in that statement for me. “Connecting the dots”, helping each other solve problems, gathering new Insyts and sharing our experiences. The core idea for me is positive intention towards contribution from everyone and cross-boundary, ad-hoc collaboration.
Think how powerful this can be if we seed the world with local BrainJams, bringing people together from the Government, the Community (NGO), the Business world and the world of technology (open source software in particular) – ad-hoc collaboration focused around the conversations that lead to right action in the world. An organizing principle of the event, and an implicit focus for the conversations of that day can certainly be centered around using technology systems to enable these connections, but it is not necessary to receive the benefits of getting together and jamming.
This is why I specifically thought of doing BrainJams rather than just joining BarCamp and helping them out. For me it is about spreading this deep belief in the power of sharing knowledge and collaborating in the commons beyond the open source community. It is about the fact that I believe the knowledge you need at this very second to do whatever work you are doing even better is out there somewhere – it is simply a matter of making the connection. It is what I have been doing since kindergarten, sharing what I have with others.
What I hope we get from BrainJams is a community of people experimenting and sharing what they learn from bringing people together for local, cross boundary, unconference, open demo, knowledge networking sort of events. Whether it is called SeattleMinds, BarCamp, TagCamp, TechCamp or a Meet-Up BBQ is not the point – it is not about being the be all, end all in this emerging event space, it is about making sure the intentions of the original idea stays true, helping facilitate the connections between people, resources and ideas by getting people together and talking.
Whether it is specifically focused on making technology more accessible, establishing systems for disaster preparedness/recovery or coming up with new ways to combat global warming, BrainJams are valuable for all those purposes. It could even be used as a format for a community of practice like a Macintosh User Group (MUG) though the intention is cross boundary collaboration. So perhaps it might be more interesting if the MUG got together with a PCUG…
They are also valuable with no purpose at all, but the types of BrainJams I will be personally involved with are ones that address how we can increase technology accessibility, awareness and usefulness – particularly in regards to what people call “Web 2.0″ and what I call “The Open Web”. For me, it is particularly important to get the right strategic and technical knowledge in the hands of people who can benefit from a deeper understanding of what’s possible. The people who ‘get it’ and can go back to their office on Monday and use the new knowledge to make an immediate and lasting impact on their organizations and the world around them.
So while the verbiage around the idea increases, the idea simplifies – now more than ever, it is clear that this is merely one aspect for the vision i had for The Noble Pursuit.
When the ideas keep coming, my thought is to at least capture it if I can not really act on it. Many of them are quite complicated however, and require not only stream of conscious writing, but also research, conversations and some collaboration. So those usually have to wait and often end up getting overtaken by other events, which means they end up in a drawer with a pile of other notes. Insytes was one method I developed for bringing some sanity to the madness – there are others we will be talking about more soon.
As a result of this crazy period of time, I am a little behind, but working hard to catch up. Now that RGB-T’s is up and going, my project with Buzzlogic/Persuadio has started and I have actually started to develop working project plans for everything, I am feeling a bit better, but still frustrated that I can not get more accomplished in each 24 hour period.
Then, there are the important conferences where a lot of this stuff manifests in real human relationships and the convergence of resources behind the ideas. Tomorrow and Thursday is the Internet Identity Workshop and then this weekend we have TagCamp. Next week is DUX (which I can’t afford and is sold out now anyway) and then a SuperHappyDevHouse which I really want to attend this time.
To top it all off, we are hosting a close friend in town who is now a self described “refugee” from Hurricane Wilma.
So the next thing for me to do is to work on the next BrainJam – more to come later today… really.
Technorati Tags: brainjams:bayarea
Truth is, it is a rather silly idea I had back in late 1997, but if RGB-T’s can make just a c-note this year, it was worth acting on it and should be a fun part of each day over the next year. One of my client’s boyfriends was the son of the family that manufactured Kenneth Cole leather in Mexico. I was pitching him on the next new trend in computer bags, trying to co-design a backpack with him to pitch to Kenneth Cole. I think that train left the station without me…
Anyways, I was trying to think of something I could do within a field I knew something about. So one day while sitting around by the pool, my hot lesbian supermodel roommate Krista suggested I design some t-shirts since that should be a quick way to make money. A few drinks later, the seed of RGB-T’s was born. A simple “T” on a t-shirt in an RGB color, including the RGB color code in the design. The other method was more American Apparel like, with the shirt itself being the RGB color and only the color code on the shirt.
I attempted to launch it with my fraternity brother, roommate and business partner, Rick from ModelNetwork.com, but we were just struggling with too many daily headaches together on other things, so it kind of went dormant for a while.
But after being introduced to CafePress and then having Zazzle sponsor Web 2.1, I realized how easy this could be finally. So the other night at the TechCrunch BBQ I was speaking with Josh Ellman from Zazzle when I remembered the idea and decided it was so easy to do that I had to act on it. So here we are, a few design attempts later, with a commerce engine by Zazzle, manufacturing by Zazzle, idea by Chris Heuer and a simple web site (soon to be a WordPress blog).
I would love to promise a new product every day, but honestly, they are more likely to trickle out in the beginning. So, check out RGB-T’s and tell me what you think about this silly little idea, from the mind of a wannabe designer geek…
After much discussion last week, we have realized that the only workable date at present is Saturday December 3, 2005. We still need a location, sponsors and volunteers to help put this together. We are expecting around 100+ people from all indications, so do let me know if you plan on attending. Details will be on the event WIKI by the end of the day and I will be reaching out to those of you I know of directly ASAP.
Next planning meeting will be scheduled for the end of this week, most likely THUR night.
After our planning meeting last week, I have been thinking a bit about the best uses for the wiki, the blog and the other key services of the Open Web. On Monday I spoke with Rachel Murray about the potential uses/users of the site and how to best configure the knowledge/community system. One overriding theme kept coming back to me over and over – use your own tagspace and create a published key. Almost like an API for knowledge objects as it relates to us. We would use Basecamp for our pre-planning discussions, documents, flyer versions etc… (the behind the scenes stuff being treated more like pieces of art in progress rather than private)
In reviewing the future spread of this usage within the commons, it becomes apparent that we must self-regulate the space so as to not have it interfered with, while at the same time establishing laws against those who will utilize it for blog spam and other unwarranted activities that would impede upon the good purposes within the commons. Like keeping graffiti off the city streets and buildings. Rachel has put the beginnings of this idea in place on our wiki, and we would love you to contribute as well.
But I digress, and I am out of time, so let me get to the point of the post – how we will be experimenting with our own tagspace and key, integrating dynamic, tag based feeds easily available from the key itself.
Our TagSpace will be based on the domain name in a sense – brainjams:
Some keys will be
Eventually from the site, you will be able to quickly and easily access all related items, learn how to easily tag your posts and join us in figuring out how we can best use these tools together, and how we can make it easier for toher to lean how, to contribute their experience and constantly work to improve with deeper understanding of what works best.
As it stands now, there are really 4 spaces we will be playing within (though this will likely grow as more cool tools are developed):
- Blogs Blogs are to be used for places to present new ideas – the posts themselves get tagged so as to be included in the appropriate tagspace and easily findable by all through our interface or on their own RSS subscritions to the tagspaces. Conversations about the ideas should hopefully take place around that blog posts, through the comment system – perhaps with another tagspace applied to help make sense of the comments (based on my Insytes models perhaps)
- Flickr – Flickr is a place for presenting models, frameworks, diagrams and the like – or photos from the events themselves to be connected to all the other media about the event from the tagspace. Again here we can use Flickr’s comment system to connect the dots to other pieces of information that support the model/ideas or perhaps even leap from one version to the next
- De.licio.us – Delicious allows us to tag important resources for the projects so that other people on the project teams and working towards the same goals within the same tagspace can all keep up to date. When one is very urgent, someone can email it, IM it, or tag it FOR:username. The Flock browser as it gets more stable will be perfect for these things.
- WIKI – The Wiki will become the primary resource locater pointing to codified, accepted wisdom on the things we are discovering and working through the other methods. Not only pointing out best practices, directory information, and other relevant knwoledge, but being constantly improved as our experience grows and we develop new insytes. The best practices and resources and models will point back to the source materials and thoughts that are throughout the commons.
And it is all possible because of tags. We need to work to ensure that this critical interface element is used properly – don’t know what or how yet, but I am putting it out there for inclusion in this conversation so that we dont miss something big here. At present, it is an open system that any group can just create and hold on to. Perhaps we need a registry of some source, a commons registry, an extension if OPENIdentity. Maybe we can talk about this at IIW2005.
For now, though I need to run to the TechCrunch event – running late – want to talk about this with the good folks there…
One more thing I wrote earlier, but needed to pull out of the main text – I am done with Web 2.0, Web 2.1. Web2point1, Web 3.0, Web37.0 – From here on out, I am going to call it “Open Web” now instead of Web 2.0 I know there is a company with that name, but in the context of “the OpenWeb” we might be ok – won’t you join me on stomping out Web versioning for good? After all, that is what we are really talking about right? A commons open to all, based on standards (as lessig says “Network Neutral“)