Written on the train, thinking about browsing and reading…

I’ve been spending (losing?) time the last three days by looking at various projects that one could call ‘web 2.0’, or, more precise (?) websites & softwares that try to use (cash in?) on the power of social networking. Mostly it’s applications that provide users with some sort of wiki- blogging, FOAF-networking, and/or tagging functionality — a particular blend (melange) of it, plus a nice (?) interface designed to appeal to a certain userbase. Or hoping to find a user-base. Some of them, I’d say, are nice & will succeed to find that user-base, others come across to me as a commercial wager that can either succeed (like MySpace) or be forgotten. Some are closer to the idea of the Semantic Web, others hope that order (or usability) will emerge from the ‘multitude’.

On a personal level — speaking about this particular user: me — I haven’t seen a project that I would use regularly myself. I might sometimes use delicious, upload photos to Flickr and I have an account on Technorati (that I do not use) — but all three services are in no way necessary. I could do without. This probably posits myself as an old-skool internet-user, generation 1994. If I need wiki-functionality, I’ll use a wiki myself. (Btw my provider has set one up for every user). I can publish using ftp, html &c. Of course I enjoy the functionalities that are available now. Yet most on them strike me as ‘not designed for me’.

It’s not that I am content with whatever there is: I would really like to see a better (= more aesthetically appealing) interface for reading RSS-feeds. A better way of organizing the feeds. And I love to see better content, especially for news & background to the news.

(Not reading newspapers every day, and skipping a few days of newspaper reading last week I missed that the chess-match between Kramnik and Topalov had started! I was extremely annoyed: I like to follow that, but it’s below (or above) the radar of all the web-sources I’m bound to check. I wonder if social networking would have helped here. Chess won’t pop-up that easily in my profile.) (Just to say that — I think — there will always be a need for ‘general interest’-publications = newspapers, and for human editors next to software-channeled editors).

Software-channeled (software/computer/algorithm) newsservices like Digg and Newsvine can work. Mankind has been experimenting with these sort of concepts for ten years now (chuck a lot of stories in a database, let users vote, analyze the voting and the user-behavior & then deliver the personalized content to the user). But I’m utterly unimpressed with both Digg and Newsvine. Not enough content and no content that has my interest.

And wrt Technorati. I hardly feel tempted to explore all the different functionalities (though I’d say the search engine and the tags work quite well). I’m not interested in my ranking (don’t think I’m ranked, did I ‘claim’ my blog at all?) And what keeps me from using it, is the feeling/impression that every action I perform there is part of a huge datamining-experiment. It’s mostly a ‘feeling’ — though it is a huge datamining experiment, but Google is as well & I use Google without too many second thoughts. (We’re not going to escape datamining. The question is: who is doing it, on what grounds, what is done with the data).

I’m also not so much into social networking: I like to write & read. Let’s say — radically — : it’s the texts, the content, that weaves the web; not the functionalities of the software. I’m happy if I can give my attention to that.

Wrt to attention: I still have to order the (new) Richard Lanham book about the economy of attention. And it seems Roseanne Stone said some important things about this in her lecture at the crossmedia-week, referring that we live in a ‘partial attention’ state of mind. That’s not multitasking anymore: we’re continuously partially paying attention to lots of things. Research learns that this leads to enormous stress. We know that, but what captured my attention is the apparent difference between multitasking and partial attention. Found on http://www.uzy.nl/2006/09/28/picnic-06-dag-2/. Will check for a more elaborate reference.

Maybe the disappointed, irritated tone of this entry is to be traced back to ‘too much browsing around’ and too little concentration.

blogging,en,research,software,ubiscribe | October 3, 2006 | 12:03 | Comments Off on Written on the train, thinking about browsing and reading… |


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