Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Kevin Marks has written a nice rebuttal to Andrew Orlowski's article about googlewashing.

Also, FYI it wasn't because I am a "a colossus of authority" that Jim Moore's article took off on Google, but probably because the true colossus, Dave Winer wrote about it. Actually, I first heard about Jim's blog because Dave met Jim and emailed Doc and me about Jim's new blog. (In any event, collosal is a collosal word. I think Andrew had probably just finished reading the article about the colossal squid.)


Kevin made some good points. One that he left out was that Orlowsi and other Reg writers are often guilty of making up silly words in what seems to be an attempt to strike a synpathetic chord in the hearts of their assumed iberal readership. Asnyone else remember The Reg's use of "Pigopolist"? God forbid a reader attempt to ask Orlowski to define this word. The replies will contain nothing but attempts to belittle the questioner.

I quite like the Register, it's a nice throwback to people reporting news as they see it, not as they think it should be presented to offend the fewest people. Hey, Register hacks have attitudes and preferences - bravo. It's almost like... (GASP!) A blog! It's an IT blog staffed by a few people. Sure they get it wrong once in a while, and having attitude is something that will blow up in your face now and then, but some of Andrew's points ring true with me.

Blogs (And I despise that word) are nothing more than online diaries with a little more structure. I have to say, and I'm sorry for stepping on any toes, I don't see what the fuss is about. If you count the BBS I was running from about 1986 forward I've been blogging far longer than most of you, and guess what? No one cares. The face of democracy hasn't changed, news reporting has gotten worse, not better.

All this talk of blogs changing the world leaves me with the vague impression that people advocating their amazing properties are modern snake-oil salesmen or people woefully disconnected from reality.

Don't get me entirely wrong, I love the two 'blogs' I read (I bookmark them under "NEWS" FWIW), bOINGbOING +, but they're nothing more than personally run news sites.

What's the big deal exactly?

Is it because there's software making it easier for chumps to post their feeble thoughts? Why is it special now and it wasn't in 1996? What makes a 'blog' more useful or amazing than an oft-updated personal webpage, the likes of which we saw in the early days of the net? Is it because they're all linked together in a kind of 'we rock!' incestuous lump?

Am I missing something or are you 'bloggers' delusional?

I love joi's site tho, it gives me hope, but it's just a website, it's not a revolution.

Chris, I added a Coda to the post about his clumsy neologism, citing Orwell.

Lawrence, the big deal is the nexus of link tracking tools like google, technorati and trackback that now exist have tightened the feedback loops between blogs.

Lawrence, what's the big deal about Google? Why, when I started on the 'net, we had the CERN What's New page, and after that, Lycos and Yahoo and AltaVista and Excite and...

Of course the difference is one of critical mass, connectivity and connections. All of the early examples of search facilities were, in one way or another, implementations of a hierarchical index or taxonomy of information that were hallmarks of literacy-dominant technology. But, of course, the major effect of instantaneous communications is to effect the reversal of literacy-dominance into a culture of orality; hence, the effectiveness and subsequent popularity of Google, the incarnation of an orality-based search engine. (You can contact me through my blog if you want to know why.)

Weblogs exhibit a similar phenomenon. Sure, we had web pages that housed private musings. In fact, early web pages, you will recall, were little more than private musings and links to a few of my favorite things. Weblogs, and more specifically, their conversational nature involving commentary and trackback-like features, subtly change personal web pages from a literacy-dominant to an orality-dominant mode. Such a change, almost imperceptible to the unskilled ear, nonetheless results in an explosive change when accelerated by the natural orality of the internet as ground.

Bravo, Lawrence. But then that ending. It gives you hope? Ahhhh hope for the Wired Mag glory days of 1995, eh? Tech will save the world, world peace and perfect democracy, yeah yeah. And for the Venture Capital and IPO days of 1999? What hope? It was all a fraud.

“Natural orality of the internet as ground”? and “literacy-dominant to an orality-dominant mode”. Whoa. You want to strip the buzzword techno-speak zaps offa that whole comment? What’s changed? I can sum it up in one word: ubiquity. But that concept won’t save the world. Neither will Blogs (and I despise that word too), nor will Netified Democracy papers and rants. Things are far more complex and detailed, and contain far more variances, than post-Bubble geeks can even dream about.

And if you want post your musings, hey, go ahead. But don’t think you are destroying the power structure of the “old guard” media and granting us all a perfect world via thy rants. And hyperlinks, or (in buzzword mode) “trackback-like features” are simply navigational tools. The fact of grouping things together, in some big complimentary echo-chamber, doesn’t scale in the real world.

Whatever happened to ‘happy medium’? -- you have the Luddite’s on one side and the techno-utopian Digeratites on the other. Dismiss, or turning it all into a religion. Neither are valid choices. Just use it.

To quote Voltaire: “Excellently observed,” answered Candide; “but let us cultivate our garden.”

In keeping with Joi Ito's note when he added the comment ability to his website, that he think people should more ofte post their opinions on their own websites, my own somewhat detailed discussion of the original article and Kevin Mark's response are on my blog. It starts out, "I also felt that the original article was bit over the top and seemed a bit like a professional journalist lashing out at the blogsphere he is not a part of. Perhaps the author just wanted to hold onto his little precious term for his specific cause de jour and not share it with people who are more interested in thoughtful discussion than daily protests with inane slogans. Despite the flaws of the article however, I did find the underlying theme, if not the tone, of the article very interesting..."

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Enter the Googlewash from Big Damn Heroes (News)
April 4, 2003 4:57 PM

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