Thursday, January 02, 2003

This Guardian piece (via BuzzMachine) contains lots of sense on what the tech trends of 2003 are likely to be. I think the observation that blogs are in some ways the new Usenet is a fairly astute one. When I first discovered the net in the late 1980s, Usenet was the key information application for me, and for me it was very interactive. Then, a few years later, I spent my time getting information from more static sites, from Hotwired to Feed to Suck to Word to even Slate and Salon, which was more a case of reading than writing. Now, however, where it is happening is in the blogosphere, and I am back to doing a lot of writing. Certainly I now write relatively similar things for my blog that I once did on Usenet.

One key difference though is that Usenet is divided up into reader spaces. All the readers interested in a subject are in one place, and will read an article that anyone posts on that subject. As an author, you post in different places when you are writing about different subjects. If you pick up readers in one place, they may not be familiar with the work you post in other places and on other subjects. With Usenet, you follow subjects rather than authors.

The blogosphere, on the other hand, is divided up into writer spaces. Everything an author writes is in the same place. He may write on different subjects, but these are mixed together. Readers tend to follow authors rather than subjects. If you write on your blog on a particular subject that you do not normally discuss, then your regular readers might not be interested, and readers who are interested may not find it. In the blogosphere, you follow authors rather than subjects.

What would be really useful would be a search engine that indexes large numbers of blogs, and indexes posts in those blogs individually. If you are interested in a particular subject, the engine lists all recent individual blog posts that are connected with that subject. Some google like factor ranks the posts in order of how many other people have accessed them / how often they are linked to / how often the blog that contains them has been linked to, etc. Once you have this, you would have a true successor to Usenet, only easier to use and less geeky.

Also on that Guardian article, I thorougly endorse the recommendation that people read Clay Shirky , one of the stars of the old Feed . And it seems someone has given Jim McClellan an Advance Reading Not For Sale copy of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition . Lucky bastard.

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