Malta and web 2.0

Thu, 2005-09-15 12:00.

I believe Malta is currently witnessing a silent revolution through a growing number of Internet users who are coming to realize that they can have their voices heard without a controlling intermediary. This major paradigm shift is silent because those most active in it are yet to realize the true potential of digital communities and still see themselves as isolated individuals.
Although Malta is a tiny nation dominated by majority rule, embodied in the major political parties and the Roman Catholic church, a small digital community is about to embark on a path of social change which potentially has a much larger effect than any other effort the same social network could attempt without the benefit of the electronic networks of digital telecommunications.
Identity and self-image play an important part in the formation of digital communities. All identities are filtered through the personal experiences and the emotional ups and downs that flow through our interactions with and in everyday life. The Internet goes beyond all other media formats in altering a person's relationship to the so-called 'real' world of everyday life. It offers more possibilities than any other single-medium satellite communication. I don't say this hypothetically or from a position of utopian desire. I've lived on the frontline of Malta's cyberspace for over 10 years.
... Digital communities enable group action and interaction. They also engender constructive contexts and social capital. Reconfiguring the power relationships between ordinary citizens and traditional institutions, digital communities can give a voice to marginalized individuals providing peers who listen and contribute to the development of their unpopular ideas.
This is precisely what many Maltese Internet users are on the verge of discovering.

 
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A World Made of Cities

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:41.

Vast new urban communities is the main event in the world for the present and coming decades. The villages and countrysides of the entire world are emptying out. Why? I was told by Kavita Ramdas, head of the Global Fund for Women, "In the village, all there is for a woman is to obey her husband and family elder, pound grain, and sing. If she moves to town, she can get a job, start a business, and get education for her children. Her independence goes up, and her religious fundamentalism goes down."
So much for the romanticism of villages. In reality, life in the country is dull, backbreaking, impoverished, restricted, exposed, and dangerous. Life in the city is exciting, less grueling, better paid, free, private, and safe.

 
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The universal, self-publishing, loosely-coupled personal directory

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:37.

The original premise behind the initiative is that SMBs are at a great disadvantage when it comes to online search engines and directories because they don't have the expertise to ensure that the best information is provided to the search and directory services organizations (Google, Yahoo, etc.). In turn this means that potential customers are frustrated in attempts to locate businesses when they're in need of services. Trying to find, for example, the closest dry cleaner that does on-site leather cleaning can be a frustrating experience with today's Web search and directory tools.
But in reality, it can be just as time-consuming and frustrating to find big businesses also - especially bricks-and-mortar locations that are close to where you live or work. Here's just one example. Suppose you're away from home (at a trade show, for example) and you'd like to pick up a copy of a newspaper that provides daily IT news in its business section (for example, the "San Jose Mercury News" or the "Austin American-Statesman") - where would you go to find one? Neither the Merc nor the AAS Web sites will tell you where to buy the paper in Chicago or New York. The concierge at your hotel might know of someplace that sells papers but if only there were a listing you could find of retail businesses within a mile or so of your hotel that carried out-of-town newspapers. You could then quickly find out (by calling) which ones had the papers you were interested in and pay them a visit.
Here's another example. Same situation, you're out of town at a trade show. You want to pick up a quick lunch so you'd like to find a fast food place within a block or two of the show venue. You could visit mcdonalds.com, wendys.com, jackinthebox.com, and burgerking.com and enter the show venue's address to find the closest shop, write them all down and determine which is the shortest walk. Or you could go to an SMBmeta-enabled online directory and find all the fast-food places within two blocks of your current location - and probably see them all on a map.

 
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Persistent Conversations And Relationships

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:34.
... Now, that being said, equally important as the ongoing conversation is that same past record of conversations. Why? Because that conversational record may be important to other members of the network. An example, from the Long Term Communications paper:
"We had a housewarming party where we sent out an invitation and gave everybody three by five cards, and they had to come back with a recommendation. Because we moved into the new neighborhood and we didn't know plumbers or dentists or doctors or anything... All the recommendations are in here. And people know we have this list now, and so they call us up to recommend an X. And so we're becoming sort of a local knowledge group because we did this at our housewarming."
So, in this case, the fact that these participants held onto the conversational record transformed the newbies in the neighborhood into the neighborhood experts for all things domestic.
What does this all mean? Once the conversation's started, keep it going (and know if you have the responsbility to do so). And as it unfolds, know where it has been, as that knowledge can easily be the basis of the next conversation.

 
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The Relationship Revolution

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:16.
Consider a small thought-experiment: Whenever you see the word "information" -- as in the strategic importance of managing information, or the importance of timely information in solving problems, or the need to make substantial investments in information technology in order to compete in the cutthroat world of global competition -- substitute the word "relationship."
Ultimately, the issue boils down to value: How do organizations, markets and individuals create and manage value? The fact is, people -- not information -- create the value that matters, and information is merely one of many ingredients that people use. Consequently, the real future of digital technologies and networks rests with the architects of great relationships -- not just the architects for timely bits and bytes of information. People who believe in the hype of the Information Age are -- pun intended -- badly misinformed.

 
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Jane Jacobs: what makes a vital city?

Thu, 2005-09-15 11:01.

Jane Jacobs: Cities are the chief motors of economies. You can't talk about economies without talking, at least obliquely, about cities. Any human settlement is an economic equivalent to a local ecosystem. Just as ecology is the economy of nature. I've just been looking at the same thing from the opposite point of view�”the nature of economies.


Stewart Brand: Presumably that steps you right up to the question of global economy?


Jane Jacobs: Yes. The nature of economies comes to that. But people want these prescriptions. You can't prescribe for a global economy any more than you can get a handle on prescribing for a global ecosystem. Also, if you get too abstract about these things they become meaningless. You can't put everything in one ball of wax without it becoming abstract.

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Limitations of networks unanchored to geography

Thu, 2005-09-15 10:51.
Services like Craigslist have local incarnations -- Craigslist New York, say -- which are essentially convenient abstractions of geography in order to control the nature of the content. That's ideal for selling stuff, finding a job, or renting an apartment -- for transactional interactions. Ten years after Netscape went public, I can still get a little thrill at how easy it's become to find out that someone in Sydney needs a rideshare, or a date, but some of the limitations of networks unanchored to geography are also more apparent. I and millions like me can look at this board from anywhere on the globe, and the chances that I'm going to connect with someone around the corner are correspondingly small.
From finding out why the nearest laundromat has shut down (big local quality of life issue, trust me!) to why the cops were on the block last night, from where the good yard sale is to changes in local zoning, to simply making a few friends right nearby, there are all sorts of down-to-earth reasons it might be good to shift attention from the cross-continental, trans-oceanic network for a bit, and get better connected with the local neighborhood.

 
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Irving Wladawsky-Berger on emergent change

Thu, 2005-09-15 10:47.

We are living in times of intense change. In any kind of system or organization, the more components the system has, the faster those individual components are changing, and the more integrated the components are, the harder it is to predict how that system or organization will evolve into the future. The system becomes "emergent," a term used to describe highly interactive, complex systems whose behavior -- indeed, whose very nature -- is essentially unpredictable.
It is not hard to see how our world, its institutions, perhaps even our personal lives are becoming increasingly "emergent", that is, hard to predict. Technology is changing at a prodigious rate, new products and services are born almost every day, and to top it all off, ever since the Internet hit in the mid '90s, we are living in an increasingly interconnected, global world. If your business and/or your life feel more chaotic . . . . it is because they are. (Or, at least, they look chaotic through the lens of our familiar paradigms.)

 
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Wikipedia: Emergence

Archives are at the heart of decentralized communities

Thu, 2005-09-15 10:44.
In decentralized, emergent communities, the community archive defines the community over time. Therefore, designers of such communities need to pay attention to the processes by which these archives emerge. The ongoing debate over folksonomy provides us with a public record of decentralized archiving strategies that do and don't work.

 
Link

Communities and governments

Thu, 2005-09-15 10:35.
Relationships - family and community - preceded governance and markets. This view from Jeremy Rifkin is in an interview published in May 2000:

"What I say to business leaders is "understand that your sector and the government sector are derivatives, not primary institutions." There is no example in history where you first create a government or establish a market, then you create a community. It's always the other way around, although we have lost sight of that lesson. First people establish communities, then they create social exchange, shared metaphors, shared meetings in life. Only when the social capital is well developed do communities create markets for trade and establish governments."

 
The full interview