Pollution 2.0

MapEcos is very interesting — an application that superimposes location and emission data on Google maps. Go to a location and see where the local polluters are. Click on one of them and up pops date from the EPA database.

It works only for the US at present, but it’s a really neat application of Web 2.0 tools.

What’s wrong with OpenSocial

Tim O’Reilly has put his finger on it

If all OpenSocial does is allow developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another, that’s a big win for the developer, as they get to shop their application to users of every participating social network. But it provides little incremental value to the user, the real target. We don’t want to have the same application on multiple social networks. We want applications that can use data from multiple social networks.

And data mobility is a key to that. Syndication and mashups have been key elements of Web 2.0 — the ability to take data from one place, and re-use it in another. Heck, even Google’s core business depends on that ability — they take data from every site on the web (except those that ask them not to via robots.txt) and give it new utility by aggregating, indexing, and ranking it.

Imagine what would have happened to Google maps if instead of supporting mashups, they had built a framework that allowed developers to create mapping applications across Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google as a way of competing with MapQuest. Boring! That’s the equivalent of what they’ve announced here.

Would OpenSocial let developers build a personal CRM system, a console where I could manage my social network, exporting friends lists to various social networks? No. Would OpenSocial let developers build a social search application like the one that Mark Cuban was looking for? No.

Set the data free! Allow social data mashups. That’s what will be the trump card in building the winning social networking platform….


This is a really smart idea.

Thanks to Pete for the link. And to James Miller for the link to the BBC report.

And thanks to Tony Hirst for explaining that CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

Argument 2.0

Martin Weller has started something interesting:

I am starting something of an experiment today for the rest of this week.

I am going to construct an article by structuring a debate across four blogs. The article is around the future of content and starts in my next post.

The plan is:

Monday – I post a piece on where I think digital content is going, arguing that it is moving towards being free and widely distributed.

Tuesday – Ray Corrigan is going to post a piece responding to mine which looks at how digital rights may make it a more, not less, controlled future for content.

Wednesday – Patrick McAndrew will focus it on education by bringing in the perspective from open educational resources.

Thursday – Will Woods will look at some of the relevant technologies and how these might impact.

Friday – we’ll draw some conclusions.

It’s an intriguing idea. The only problem is the timescale. Martin’s opening contribution covers a lot of ground and begs many questions. If Ray can respond effectively in 24 hours, then he’s a quicker thinker than I am.

Andrew Keen’s Best Case

David Weinberger has done something really interesting. He’s taken Andrew Keen’s book, The Cult of the Amateur and extracted from it the gist of the case that Keen is trying to make — and then discusses it critically but fairly. This is an interesting departure from the usual mode of public argument — in which people build straw men from wilful misrepresentations of other people’s arguments, and then proceed to destroy their creations.

There’s also a rather good debate between Andrew Keen and the Guardian‘s Emily Bell — which Keen graciously concedes that Emily won.

The Web’s Weakest Link

From Om Malik’s blog

Yesterday afternoon, I left my apartment, which also doubles as my part time office, in a mad rush, late for a meeting. As the elevator descended, the lights suddenly went out, and for a minute or two (it seemed like an eternity) I was suspended in a dark metal box. And then survival skills took over, as I pressed the emergency button.

And while on the phone, the lights came back on, and the elevator descended, and I rushed to my meeting, silently cursing the building owners for having shoddy infrastructure. It was only later in the day, I learned of massive power outages caused by snafus with at PG&E, our local power company. This resulted in a transformer blowing up, and causing even more disruptions, especially at 365 Main, one of the large co-lo/data center facilities situated in the SOMA area of San Francisco.

This resulted in massive outages at some of Web 2.0’s brand name companies – Six Apart, Facebook, Technorati and Yelp – knocking out their systems and web services out flat. Whatever the reasons behind the failure might be, yesterday was a rude reminder of how fragile our digital lives are.

The seemingly invincible web services (not to mention the notional wealth they signify) vanish within a blink of the eye. It was also a reminder, that all the hoopla around web services is just noise – for in the end the hardware, the plumbing, the pipes and more importantly, the power grid is the real show…

Citizen Media: A Progress Report

Dan Gillmor, reflecting on the first year of his project…

We’ve come a long way. There’s a growing recognition and appreciation of why citizen journalism matters. Investments, from media organizations and others, are fueling experiments of various kinds. Revenue models are taking early shape. And, most important, there’s a flood of great ideas.

But we have a long, long way to go. We nee much more experimentation in journalism and community information projects. The business models are, at best, uncertain — and some notable failures are discouraging. Dealing with the issues of trust, credibility and ethics is essential; as are more tools and training, including a dramatically updated notion of media literacy.

I offered 10 major points in my talk, as follows…

Thoughtful. Worth reading.