“Idiots” is just another word for “wrong”

Web 2.0 definitions / Wikipedia idiots:

Meanwhile I’m having a running battle with some idiots on the Wikipedia Web 2.0 page. One or more of these clowns keeps deleting any and all references to my websites and articles. Now I know what Dave Winer feels like when he criticizes Wikipedia. It’s a great resource, but just like anything – a few idiots always end up ruining it for the rest of us.

This goes back to my own exchange involving Dave and Nicholas Carr, where I argued process can resolve many of the problems seen with Wikipedia. The fact that Richard MacManus has to conduct a battle of endurance against people who disagree with him shows that might and right are not completely aligned. Yes, we knew that, but the argument for the “it’s alright, it can be deleted” approach to Wikipedia errors is just another variant on the might makes right approach to social decision-making.

I don’t think people who disagree with me are idiots. Idiots are people who refuse to apply reason in arguments. Process is the agreement on the standards for rational disagreement that makes idiocy obsolete or, at least, removes idiocy from the debate. Then, we can stop calling people idiots and start a real discussion about facts and shared information that contributes to our definition of the world.

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Community, Personalization and Attention

Search Personalization and Attention:

  1. People are not static

The issue here is that people’s interests change over time, the topics in which they are interested is by no means a fixed list. Their interests while working will relate to their profession, in their leisure time they may have a multitude of fairly unrelated hobbies or interests. However, even if the set of topics is changing over time, a large proportion of an individuals search queries will be clustered around specific topics. This problem does not rule out the ability to recognise increased (or decreased) relevance of results found in particular domains. Things like homonym disambiguation are still possible. For example, if a person has previously used the keyword “rowing” in queries and visited sites relating to boats, then chances are they will be thinking of the same context when they use the word in future, rather than domestic disputes. What this problem does mean is that any system designed to track and make inferences from attention will need to take the dynamic nature of people into consideration. One important point here is that pages about topics of interest appear in clusters in the information space, and one area of interest may be totally distinct from another. Attempts to “average” or linearise results over time without taking this into consideration are not likely to produce useful results.

Let me add one more thing to the ideas Danny Ayers provides for thinking about personalized search and attention. “Personal” is also social, our individual experience is through our communities we join online; so communities are not static or singular in any sense, because they are an amalgam of individuals who are not static.

The problems of folksonomy, the limits of agreement about the meaning of tags and terms, are underscored by Danny’s point about the evolving character of the individual. Meanings are refined by the community rather than defined by the community. Personalized search results are intricately linked to the evolution of the online community, so the individual’s attention to particular communities and information is essential to parsing available information to their interests.

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This “Exclusive” is PR

No matter how good Wikinews is, this “exclusive interview” with Jimmy Wales, the founder of the Wikimedia Foundation is the same kind of PR you get from the mainstream.

Jimbo says a lot of good things, but this is like having the Survivor rejectee on the CBS morning show the next day…. All cross-promotion-all-the-time is not what people need more of, but less.

Can we be honest in civic media and not make news out of promotions, please?

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Why Conservative Blogs are More Effective

Conservative Blogs are More Effective – New York Times:

But what really makes conservatives effective is their pre-existing media infrastructure, composed of local and national talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News Channel and sensationalist say-anything outlets like the Drudge Report – all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere. “One blogger on the Republican side can have a real impact on a race because he can just plug right into the right-wing infrastructure that the Republicans have built,” Stoller says.

But why? The infrastructure Matt Stoller talks about in the Times article makes conservative is what, but the why has to do with the differences in world view described by George Lakoff. Conservative minds seek a “stern father,” according to Lakoff’s Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Liberals, by contrast, seek a “nurturing mother” arrangement of society. The former, seeking authority to back up their ideas, freely and efficiently repeat messages within the conservative blogosphere. I’ve seen this as I work on the Persuadio influence research I’ve been working on: Conservative messages are repeated more accurately, even in cases where they are modified or criticized by conservatives, because there is a distinct tendency to resort to authority on which to build an argument. Liberals mangle the messages they talk about, freely modifying, adding and subtracting to ideas as part of the dialogue they (“we,” as a matter of disclosure: for the most part, I have a liberal world view) love to engage in.

Another way to put it is that liberals love an argument, because it lets them engage in finding a shared solution while conservatives love winning arguments. When I was a young activist, I met Sen. Henry Jackson, who loved winning an argument and wars, regardless of the casualties, and he told me so—we need some more Jackson in the Democratic party, though with less of his Cold War paranoiac willingness to kill.

Dialogue is messy. Metalogue, which takes place in networked discussions, is really messy. Since conservative media is much more clearly defined and more unapologetic in its stands, it provides an easily accessed source of authority. When a rumor, like the ones about John Corzine that were supposed to break just before the election, but never did, the conservative media and blogosphere accurately echo the messages they want ringing in voters’ ears.

Think about another key image from the political world, the idea of the “big tent.” The conservative tent has walls that separate those inside from the outside, the non-conservative. Sure, there is some argument about where those tent walls exist, but that’s pretty concrete discussion. The liberal big tent has no walls and it is harder, unless there is a significant crisis such as the Great Depression, World War or the abject failure of the right (Cold War, post-Watergate, post-Gulf War recession and, hopefully, post-Bush II in 2008) that people assemble under the roof of the tent to cooperate in spite of their differing agendas. I prefer the big disaggregated world, but it is hard to build a winning simple majority in election years when people are arguing over their separate issues.

Doc Searls points out in A wide five from across the divide:

My own take is that moderates, moderation, and neither-extreme blogs have a major influence too; though not necessarily in elections. In any case, nobody will ever look into that.

Absolutely, this is the case.

However, because they are moderates, the center tends to address the extremes and that is still to the advantage of the conservatives that more accurately repeat messages, as those messages are addressed by the center. The liberals have organized since the election of 2000 to make more consistent efforts to speak in sound bites, but like liberals do, they march out of line. As a result, the moderates still repeat conservative messages more accurately. It’s actually during the election years when moderates can have the greatest impact, bringing coalitions together in a third tent, which is where the candidates have to go to win when the world is not so polarized. It’s just hard to remember that most elections—especially non-presidential elections—happen in the moderate center.

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Paying for attention is a tactical move as the market evolves

Microsoft Will Pay Users to Search, Says Bill Gates:

TechDirt suggests that spammers will game the heck out of paid-to-search sites, but I think this depends on how the system is set up. Paying users in cash is a recipe for trouble, but offering discounts, cashback and free products (like free music downloads) seems like a reasonable compromise. What do you think?


There’s something many are missing that Pete Cashmore is getting at here: We’re talking about tracked usage, not random clicking of ads. How would a user be paid for clicking an ad if they were not in some way registered with the vendor (in this case, Microsoft)? Offers will be very targeted, more like direct marketing than display advertising, so the prospect of click-fraud is pretty low, because compensation will be tied to transactions, which is the nut of Pete’s notion above.

It’s also not the case that this announcement reflects the market’s abhorrence of oversized profits, as Nick Carr wrote yesterday. This is a case where, seeing a huge margin, competitors—especially that über-competitor, Microsoft—are looking at the market strategically. Hiving off part of the revenue for the audience, something I’ve been predicting for years, is a tactic to, as Carr puts it, “buy eyeballs.” Google’s profits are a ripe target, not abhorrent. This is just a case of the online ad market growing up in admittedly unexpected ways.

Google has made huge profits as the early entrant into this market, but those margins never last. The question becomes how Google, Microsoft and others will bundle services (to drive registration) with compensation models that maximize the intermediaries’ profits. Microsoft is deploying FUD with this announcement, the problem for Bill G. and Co. is that they pre-announced and someone else will probably bring to market first. Maybe even Google.

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y.ah.oo buys del.icio.us!!

del.icio.us: y.ah.oo!: Joshua Schachter reveals the news….

We’re proud to announce that del.icio.us has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we’ll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We’re excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team – they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We’re also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)

We want to thank everyone who has helped us along the way – our employees, our great investors and advisors, and especially our users. We still want to get your feedback, and we look forward to bringing you new features and more servers in the future.

I look forward to continuing my vision of social and community memory, and taking it to the next level with the del.icio.us community and Yahoo!

Congrats to a worthy company and to the buyer, which will have some significant challenges in keeping the simple spirit of Del.icou.us alive as it is integrated into the big system that is Yahoo! Nevertheless, tying tagging to the Yahoo! world is a very valuable lever for extending Yahoo’s search functionality and the original content is it producing.

If when you read a Kevin Sites piece on Yahoo, for example, there is tagging built into the page, many more people will have straightforward tools for contributing to folksonomy. That tagging drives traffic, which drives revenue.

Makes a lot of sense.

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They don’t shoot Playmates, do they?

New West Network | Playmates’ Drunken Catfight on Denver Airplane Leads to Arrest:

Buried in the middle of Thursday’s Rocky Mountain News was the kind of story that could help turn around declining newspaper sales if it were properly exploited: Two Playboy playmates, Danielle Gamba and Carrie Minter, were arrested after behaving with drunken belligerence on a flight from Denver to San Antonio on Sunday. According to the Rocky, the playmates “were allegedly so drunk on the plane that they were deemed a danger to themselves and others…According to police reports, the women fought with each other and with passengers.” Arresting them was one option, setting up a Jello wrestling pit would have been another.

But wait, it gets better: “San Antonio authorities say the episode became even more bizarre when Gamba made sexual advances toward two police officers in an attempt to avoid arrest.” Come on, Rocky Mountain News, in a time of declining newspaper readership, why would you bury such a compelling news story in the “Briefing” section on page 38 instead of trumpeting it on the front cover and adding a full-color pictorial? Have you learned nothing from “Hard Copy”? I do give them credit, though, for running two of the sultriest mug shots I’ve ever seen.

The rest of the posting is funny, too. Or you can check out Ms. Gamba on TechTV, though she wasn’t drunk at the time and plays rather demure.

Sure, they shoot maniacs (update: if indeed, he was a maniac at all) on planes in Miami, but in Denver they let the Playmates have their catfight. Life is a beer commercial, after all, and dark-skinned men are scarier than hot babes wrestling.

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Paying for market share? That may be the future of networked markets

Microsoft to show search engine users the money:

Microsoft Corp. will share a part of its advertising revenues from its search engine with users, the company’s chairman Bill Gates said in a panel discussion on an Indian television channel.

Gates said that search engines like Google (Profile, Products, Articles) Inc. get their revenues from advertising because people use these search engines. “Google’s business model is not based on free software,” Gates said. “Their business model is based on advertisements from which they make a lot of money.”

But they don’t share these advertising revenues with the end users who help them get the revenue, Gates said. “Google keeps all of the money with itself,” he added.

This may be the shortest route to paying people for their attention, yet. Say what you will about Microsoft, but this is a smart move. How do you break the relationship between a company (Google) and the people who like what it gives them for free? Give people money to use the things Google gives away for free. This has been one of my main critiques of Google, that it is harvesting value without sharing the value with the people who generate it—advertisers are not the source of value, people paying attention are.

Now everyone’s talking about Google’s character, while Microsoft’s wide reach is becoming passé. That may be the key to surprising thinking, like this idea of paying people for clicking on ads, coming from the Great Silicon Forest of Redmond, Wash. Then, it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft gets the attention of phobics back, again.

UPDATE: More on the idea and its viability from Henry Blodget in Get Paid to Search: Now MSN’s Talking:

How, exactly, the company would do this remains a question, but the idea is far from absurd. When your mere click on a link generates a couple of dollars of pure profit, it’s easy to see how you might come to believe that getting paid something for your decision/attention is fair. And at current prices, Google could split per-click revenue 50/50 with searchers and still have plenty of profit to spare. (Of course, the stock would drop 80%, but that’s a different issue). [Emphasis added.]

I’m telling you, between the vastly expanded customer support costs Google has to take on with services like Talk and Base, along with challenges like this from Microsoft, Google’s margins are in deep trouble.

UPDATE2: Nicholas Carr adds his two cents (which may be what an ad pays you someday just for looking at it), echoing my thoughts, in Buying eyeballs:

What Gates is saying – and it will not be music to Google’s ears – is that there’s too much profit right now in online advertising.

He’s right. Earlier today, in a post at SiliconValley.com’s Google discussion, I argued that the wide profit margins Google enjoys on internet advertising are unsustainable:

… if Google has reaped a great and well-deserved bounty from creating a superior search engine, it has also been lucky. It happened on its ad-driven business model just as the advertising world began an epochal shift of dollars over to the net, and the dominant position of its search service and related ad-serving service has meant that it has taken in the lion’s share of the spending. Moreover, it’s been able to run its AdWords and AdSense services as black boxes, hiding to a large extent the way it divvies up the money that comes in. Advertisers and publishers haven’t complained much because their choices have been constrained. In the end, though, markets abhor both black boxes and oversized profits.

Competition, from Yahoo and Microsoft as well as others, can be expected to reduce the profits that flow to the owners of Internet ad-serving mechanisms, while also making pricing more transparent. Moreover, advertising is a cyclical business, and at some point we’ll see a stemming of the flood of advertising dollars to the web. Combine greater competition with advertising cyclicality, and you end up with a Google that operates with a considerably lower profit margin than it enjoys today. Then add in the company’s free-spending culture, and, well, you’ve got a problem.

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