Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What Hath Babbage Wrought?

(August 11th, 2007)
Online communities are here to stay, for a while at least, and you have to give credit where due to anyone who can make a living running one. At the same time I think we have only just started down the road to Andy Warhol’s “Fifteen minutes of fame” culture.

For the Internet consumer as opposed to the all-too-many producers, the trick is to get nourishment rather than what my mother-in-law used to call “empty calories” (she was referring to my dietary habits of the time). It’s not easy. One problem is with outlets that produce SO MUCH stuff that you are forced to sample (and even sample from summary feeds rather than whole content) and then draw your own conclusions about signal to noise ratio. I’ve tried several times to “get into” various Pirillo productions and been unable to stay with it, finding it just a cut above “somethingawfull” and a cut below Scoble’s various products, which are at least not completely ad-libbed.

I recently did a purge of my most prolific feeds and find that I am still finding most of the news I’m interested in from the old stand-by sources like Slashdot, WSJ, and some MSM that only produce 5-10 stories a day rather than hundreds (with lots of repetition and dupes of course).

They don’t call it “social networking” for nothin’ and while I’ll look for anything substantial that comes from Gnomedex, I think it is more a big tech party for people who normally only “meet” online to actually rub elbows with one another (nothing wrong with that if you live in the area). Last one I remember reading about had something about a red couch, I don’t remember anything else.

One of these days it may sink in to Silicon Valley (and by extension Seattle and LA offshoots) that when it comes to technology, your social lives are quite boring to the rest of the country. For those looking for vicarious social lives, Hollywood produces more than enough to go around, and the geek variety pales by comparison.



I *like* Scoble. Started reading him at Microsoft and found that he was about the only employee there that was not fully integrated into the Borg. Maybe that was the problem. Since then I've had trouble figuring out what his niche is. Maybe he has too.

The regular dose of "drahma" gets to me, whether it is accidental or a play for attention. Like so much on the Web, you can never tell if it is real, or is it manipulation.

One service VW provides is treating the Internet "stars" like they were the Hollywood type. The resemblance is becoming clearer to me every day.


Revise and extend...

and since I've never had much use for Hollywood stars, the Internet variety is getting more on my nerves too.

What hath Babbage wrought?

From feeds to Facebook, we have passed the point of diminishing returns on technology and are well into regression?

If you were to start a new widget company tomorrow would your first step be to get everyone a Facebook ID, an IM client, network them into iPhones with Twitter interfaces hacked in? (and yes I've tried all these things and even tried very very hard to like them).

Oh I forgot, we don't make things here any more (who has time?) we just buy it from overseas and then talk about it until it's passé.

Anyone who appears to be doing work on the current Internet economy is one way or another just a marketing middle-man. The trick is to figure out who they are working for.

Pray for another meltdown!

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