Had an interesting chat with Alex Schroeder on the #wiki IRC channel. We were talking about whether my #joiito channel was increasing concentration of attention, etc. Alex has written some interesting stuff on his wiki about Attention Concentration.

I thought a lot about the name of my blog, wiki and IRC Channel and chose very egocentric names "Joi Ito' Web", "JoiWiki" and "#joiito" because I wanted to make it clear that it was my own space. I have several reasons for this.

In the past, I have run maling mailing lists with names like "netsurf" which I put a lot of energy into setting up and running. At some point, these "places" became public places and I ended up becoming a custodian. It's like having people come over to your place to party leaving you to clean up the mess. I lost control of the community, but not the responsibility. If it was called "Joi Ito's list" I think people wouldn't have come into the discussion thinking that it was a public place.

Also, I think that putting my name on the blog makes it clear that it's my personal perspective and point of view -- nothing more, nothing less.

I do agree with Alex that there is an attention concentration element to my #joiito channel on IRC, but I think of my blog, wiki and IRC channel as my living room. I'm happy to host parties and discussions in my home, but am also happy visiting other homes to join discussions there. I spend a lot of time on the wikis and blogs of people who I meet on my blog, wiki and irc channel. I think that although there is some concentration in my living room, people can meet, speak and draw traffic back to their living rooms quite easily. I think it's a fairly inclusive. I'm MUCH MORE likely to go and read the blog or wiki of someone I just talked to on IRC than someone who sends me unsolicited email.

Having said that, I think that there may be other structures than "this is a place, this is my living room." I think that the best case might be if we ALL had our own blogs and we could get rid of blog comments all together and use trackbacks or a similar mechanism to have our conversations across the blogs. Then the "places" would be the topics of conversation.

I don't know what the wiki equivalent of that would be. I have a sense that wikis and irc channels work better with multiple contributors and are inherently places, compared to blogs which could turn into identities and voices that participate in places that are conversations across blogs.

Figuring out how to deal with the attention concentration issues, inclusiveness and responsibility and accountability in these places is the key to Emergent Democracy, I think.

4 Comments

I can't resist pointing out what fun someone like me or Shelley could have with the "maling list" typo above. :)

;-)

Liz's comment reminds me of a joke: What's the difference between a girl and postage stamp? One's a female, the other is a mail fee. (better when perceived aurally rather than visually I guess :)

But on a more serious note, I think trackbacks would have to present itself in a more convenient and efficient mannter. I like how MT provides a one-click javascript for your toolbar to trackback-post comments, but I also really like being able to read comments for a topic on one screen -- just scrolling in chronological order and following the thread. Trackbacks makes me have to jump around from site to site. There must be a one-page way to gather everything, while still presenting information about where it came from. Such a page would perhaps detach the content from any particular location, and make the "place the topic itself," to paraphrase Joi. Wiki's are ultimately still tied to the site hosting them, so it's still a step or two away I think.

anyways, just my $0.02

Joi: A couple thoughts...

(1) A "place" is ultimately a collection of moments and memories attached to a location. So while there might be value in all-Trackback conversation, individual conversations wouldn't be places, IMO. There just aren't enough moments and memories for any single individual in 99% of all conversations. (The occasional "it changed my life!" discussion would be the 1% exception.)

(2) You just gave me an idea. I recently did a first release of a ping2talk service that allows non-JournURL blogs to use it as a sort of steroid-powered remote comment system. Right now, you send a TB ping to a special ping2talk URL, and that starts a new thread. JournURL then pings you back with a link to the new discussion.

But that could be easily expanded to allow replies as well as new threads. The result might look something like this:

- Bob posts a new entry in an MT-powered BobBlog, and uses ping2talk to create a new discussion.
- Marleen replies to Bob via JournURL. Her blog is hosted by JournURL, so her reply can also flow directly into MarleenBlog.
- Andy replies to Marleen via an MT-powered AndyBlog and a conventional Trackback to Marleen's message.
- Rufus replies to Marleen in his RufusBlog and uses ping2talk to also add his reply directly to the thread.
- Allison decides to start a related JournURL thread, and has her new message ping Bob's message *and* BobBlog, making a connection to both.

The result is a widely-distributed discussion that exists in a number of forms, but still has a central home that is fully threaded and organized. The conversation even has an RSS feed of its own. The only thing that isn't already in place is "ping2reply", but that will be trivial to add.

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