(btw I love dumb pipes, I just don't want to be one)
The Social Web is the Mega Brain
With each article, video, or data sample we retain the option to filter out noise (by our own definition). We act as a voting node on the super web of information. The social web is made up of more than just the sites, software, and hardware connections. The social web contains the thinking, feeling people who make the web a valuable place to go for information, empathy, and life experiences. The web itself is a unstructured communication network between people. We generate and consume content. We sell, share or give away information, services and products. But there's a disconnect between the data or information flowing within the web, and our ability to shape it into a view that's acceptable or optimal for us as individuals. We all aren't hard wired the same way to learn information.
The First Crowd Sourced Web Filter was Search
The original crowd sourcing filter is Google Search. If we discovered, liked, or found something useful we linked to it on a web site. Google considered that an "upvote". If a site has many upvotes, its voting strength became even stronger. Through great ingenuity and marvelous engineering, an entire hierarchy was formed of relative domain strengths. Unfortunately this rigid order made it nearly impossible for brand new content to compete with our attention. This was a problem, because timeliness of information is an important feature of it's utility. We want content, and we want it fast.
A Social Protocol Would Be an Excellent Tool
Google and others (Ning, Myspace and others) helped start something like this with the open social format. But there wasn't wide spread developer adoption. In my opinion, there's a missing component that is related to user control of their view no matter what domain/community they visit. Related to user ability to customize their social space is a post by Chris Messina Putting people in the protocol (just discovered Chris and highly recommend his blog/business to readers). A protocol with widespread adoption would help move social functionality to a more transparent phase. The greatest forms of technology are those that are invisible. I envision a day when the Internet, and all it's communication features, gadgets, and eclectic interfaces are invisible to us. So that we can focus our attention on communicating again :).
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