Creovising & Inovating

Wow, talk about re-inventing the wheel:

The launch title, UNMASKED by Nicola Cornick, a Regency-set historical available from www.eBooks.eHarlequin.com, has been enriched with interactive buttons that hyperlink to Web sites containing photos, historical commentaries, illustrations, sound effects, maps, articles and more, bringing the world of the novel to life without the reader having to leave the computer or the current screen page. The interactive buttons have been designed to be unobtrusive, so if one prefers not to access the bonus material, the reading experience remains uninterrupted

What like the hyperlink? At times like this it makes me think Jeff Jarvis might be right (and maybe not just about Newspapers):

Newspapers are in the wrong businesses. They should no longer be in the manufacturing and distribution businesses — which have become heavy cost yokes — and should no longer try to be in the technology business. They’re bad at it.

So the solution – also from Jeff Jarvis:

Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.

Or even don’t try and link to the rest by re-imagining the concept of the link – you know that thing that makes the internet kinda what it is, the underliny bit that doesn’t require a separate button and new idiom for users to learn.

Quite amusing that the press-release contains examples of the more usual way of linking to other sources rather than these snazzy buttons.

Click me!

Long article about how it’s difficult to read long articles

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

Seems like a great article but unfortunately I couldn’t take it all in ;).

Let’s not confuse the medium with a format or system yeah?

Just saw this in the ‘From the Blogs’ section of the Grauniad Review. It references and then rips apart a blog post based on an article from the Times suggesting that ‘Internet book piracy will drive authors to stop writing’.

Book piracy on the internet will ultimately drive authors to stop writing unless radical methods are devised to compensate them for lost sales.

This is the bleak forecast of the Society of Authors, which represents more than 8,500 professional writers in the UK and believes that the havoc caused to the music business by illegal downloading is beginning to envelop the book trade.

*sigh*

When oh when will many of the internet bashers make the rather simple realisation that they are arguing about the death of formats or systems or revenue streams not the death of mediums. I really don’t think it is helpful to suggest people will stop writing or making music. Sure some will (maybe because renumeration is more important than self-expression??), but you know what, there will be an army of others to happily replace them. Ones armed with the relevant tools to make it in an interconnected world.

Just as I will not tune in to Radio 2 on a crystal set, choosing streaming over the internet instead. Writing will not die, music will not die, radio will not die, television will not die, art will not die, humour will not die. It will just move into something else – just as the way people distribute and get re-enumerated will transform.

Large volume encyclopedias may die (abeit for cosmetic purposes), cd’s may die (again abeit luxury formats), radio sets may die, tv stations may die, programming schedules may die, some publishers ay go out of business, some record labels may go out of business, some newspapers may go out of business.

DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE MEDIUM ITSELF DYING!! (sorry, for the internet shouting)

And I think I have a clue why writing will not die. The article talking about the death of writing, is….wait for it….written! Ee gads! Inherent post-modern feedback-loop?? (i.e. trying to prove a concept by saying it over and over, it MUST then be true, irrelevant of it’s own self-destructing argument – or something similarly oblique and Baudrillard-esque )

“It’s hitting hardest the writers who write books that you dip in and out of: poetry, cookbooks, travel guides, short stories – books where you don’t have to read the whole thing.

Now I am sorry, but when was it a god given right that certain formats such as the travel guides and cookbooks must survive. If the internet does it better and for free then that’s the situation, deal with it and adapt. Recipes existed for free for quite some time before Mrs Beeton. I get most of my recipes and food info from some great websites that seem to be doing rather well, okay maybe not paid great, but that doesn’t appear to be stopping them.

I agree there is an issue with how to sustain business models in the face of the most efficient distribution mechanism ever seem, but I may be naive but I am not too sure I care (or more accurately think, then adapt, the internet is not going away). The internet seems to be making many millions of peoples life’s richer beyond money. And let’s face it the last ten/twenty years of insane monetary growth seems to have mostly gone to a very small % of people or shareholders, so I find the argument that this may not continue a little meek. Especially as with the music industry they try to use the doomsday suggestion that unless you keep the current business model in existence then the entire medium will die.

Yes piracy is an issue (kind of always has been arrrrrrr), but you know if you allow people the tools to enable usage and payment for content, some of them might just pay you (and some won’t, again as they always have with cassette tapes, borrowing books, second hand books etc. and etc.). We can then make sure that money goes to the people that deserve it most, the creators, not the systems or trying to prop up formats that are really just not going to survive.

But we can’t pay for what doesn’t exist or is in a crappy format (DRM’d bloatware).

Right, feel better now.

The future’s coming

Loving the predictions over at Read/WriteWeb

Expert Systems; mentioned in Steven Spalding’s excellent post about “web 3.0”, an expert system is “a software agent that takes user input, runs it through a knowledge database and then generates an output using fancy technologies like neural nets”. Ten years from now, wrote Spalding, “Expert Systems won’t only be designed for general cases, but will be able to be easily generated to understand individuals tastes. […] Imagine a world where your computer would generate a profile, a meme map about you based on your interactions with the web and refine your experience based on this map.” While this has things in common with the agents described in #4 and #5, it is more about having a vast knowledge db to refine your daily lifestyle.

User-controlled, open Internet Identity; Thomas Huhn pointed out that “forming your online identity, controlling what personal data you give to whom and aggregating all your and your environments lifestreams in an open social network is simply essential for the further development of the web.” We’re seeing this develop now (it’s sometimes referred to as, you guessed it, Identity 2.0), but the scenario Thomas described is 5+ years into the future.

Data retrievel/manipulation agents; Commenter #45, Bill, wrote that we can expect in the future a “a metaweb tool” that comes with “an AI program”. This device will do data retrieval and manipulation for users, interacting directly with people.

There are 7 more over at the above link. Definitely feel that a central strand is that we are seeing a convergence of functionality but an explosion of the concept of the destination, that’s to say why should facebook be the owners of our identity, why should google hold our search preferences and email, documentation and just about everything else.

Shouldn’t we have some form of ownership of our virtual selfs? Allowing different services to interact with virtual selfs would provide the same level of service, but our data (or at least a reference to our data) would remain in one place (well, maybe not one place, but one object) for us to use with as many or few places as possible.

Also this backs-up comments I made back in April 2006. So makes me feel like a digital sooth-sayer.

Huge url

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Via hugeurl

It’s alive

Kevin Kelly noted that the web currently has 1 trillion links, 1 quintillion transistors, and 20 exabytes of memory. A single human brain has 1 trillion synapses (links), 1 quintillion neurons (transistors of sorts), and 20 exabytes of memory.

Arghh, it’s coming to get us, the internet has achieved sentience. Kind of cool landmark to achieve. What will happen now, will the web turn against us?

Google - Sentience

web two point oh

As much as I am excited about new developments in the world of the interweb; flickr, youtube, digg, delicious…etc. I can’t but help think that the rush towards web 2.0 gold might have a touch of the March 2000s about it. Sure these services are really good and there is definately a tidal shift occurring in how we interact with the internet, but myspace worth gazillions? del.icio.us worth $15-20 million? I know markets just lurv growth rates and tend to dislike guaranteed sales within a narrow profit margin, but everyone made this mistake 6 years ago.

web 2.0

Yes, 25 people can run a company that has millions of users, and yes they can be loved and regarded as brilliant. But when you have 35,000 videos being uploaded a day with very little money incoming (apart from VC cash) then surely there is only so long this can last? Ah yes, advertising, that’ll save us. But why is this always seen as the golden child? If in doubt, google ads, but when do most net savvy users actually click on them? I am all for hyper targeted advertising, but probably will trust a blogger’s recommendation, than the ads placed on their site.

As you can see, it’s not that easy to get on a growth path and keep going. As for those spikes? Well, that’s just us (the technophiles) screwing around and playing with this stuff.

From: Reality Check 2.0

Maybe I am being a bit ‘bah humbug’ about this all, but I just can’t see how these companies are supposed to make any profit beyond covering the costs of hosting.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we are really in a web renaissance at the moment and are on the verge of seeing the web operating at its much hyped potential. Many of the new services have made my web experience much richer, but would I pay for them? Would I accept massively intrusive banner ads? Generally I see the system working on a socially beneficial level and on a much more micro level, not a monetary behemoth one. The moment people feel a service has been compromised by over-advertising, overly harsh controls or simply overuse, then a clone will pop up somewhere else (facebook, magnolia, google video) and the process will start all over again. I suppose my main beef with the way web 2.0 is going, is the hijacking by greedy corporates looking to make a quick buck.

I suppose that’s the nature of the beast, where there is genuine excitment and inovation, there will be dollar signs flashing in people’s eyes.

Everyware

Really like this concept, imagining a world where objects, all objects (or at least a lot of them) produce data.

In everyware, the garment, the room and the street become sites of processing and mediation. Household objects from shower stalls to coffee pots are reimagined as places where facts about the world can be gathered, considered, and acted upon. And all the familiar rituals of daily life, things as fundamental as the way we wake up in the morning, get to work, or shop for our groceries, are remade as an intricate dance of information about ourselves, the state of the external world, and the options available to us at any given moment.

In all of these scenarios, there are powerful informatics underlying the apparent simplicity of the experience, but they never breach the surface of awareness: things Just Work. Rather than being filtered through the clumsy arcana of applications and files and sites, interactions with everyware feel natural, spontaneous, human. Ordinary people finally get to benefit from the full power of information technology, without having to absorb the esoteric bodies of knowledge on which it depends. And the sensation of use even while managing an unceasing and torrential flow of data is one of calm, of relaxed mastery.

The appeal of all this is easy to understand. Who wouldn’t desire a technology that promised to smooth the edges of modern life, subtly intervening on our behalf to guide us when we’re lost, and remind us of the things we’ve forgotten? Who could object to one that dispensed with the clutter of computers and other digital devices we live with, even while doing all the things they do better?

Similar to this pdf titled ‘A Manifesto for Networked Objects- Cohabiting with Pigeons, Arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Thingsby Bruce Sterling. by Julian Bleecker, a professor at USC.

Could you imagine the shear amount of data that is going to be available and accessible? At first I found it difficult to understand how we could possibly manage this torrent of data and I still have concerns about how we could process such a volume.

How do you avoid being flickr’d? How do you insure that you get flickr’d? Will flickr’ing cameras self-aggregate their photographic coverage, automatically discovering the flickr feeds of all the other cameras that were nearby them — at the fireworks show, or during the firehouse picnic — using NFC or Bluetooth
proximity-based networking?

All of these possibilities seem great, but I still see the need for an extremely powerful and knowledgeable layer that sits between this ‘Internet of Things’ and ourselves. In the same way that many people currently experience the Internet from a core base of about 5 websites (or so I have heard), a kind of self-imposed filter allowing access to the wider web. This relationship between user and website is extremely trustful and a similar relationship would need to exist between the user and this filtering layer (whatever form that takes). Due to the amount of data, this layer would need some form of programming about the users preferences and needs. Such needs would naturally change throughout the day, depending on mood, anxiety, personal and professional needs as well as other criteria.

Such needs seem to suggest that this layer would need to learn and grow with us, its teacher, constantly adjusting it’s knowledge about ourselves.

That level of interaction is somewhat interesting and many questions raise themselves. It questions the notion of our perception of ourselves, for example if such a layer exists and must learn from us, it is in essence part of us (or at least a microcosm of our identity), what if we don’t like what we see in said layer. What if it is fundamentally different to what our own perception is of ourselves? Also, what level of emotional training is necessary. Should the layer need to know when we are angry, happy, sad etc, should it make suggestions based on these moods, does it need to?

Maybe I am taking this issue a little far, but for such an interaction to be useful there would need to be a level of automation. It’s how far that level is taken that decides the complexity.

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