Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's a Spider... Man! The friendly neighborhood internet:

Is the web becoming more collaborative? More semantic? metaphoric? I would expect in the coming days, all these things come to pass. And most people will fail to notice. The original hypertext transfer protocol was groundbreaking because it filled a niche, and did so in a remarkable fashion. For early adopters, that was enough, and out of the aether, or arpa, the web was born; but the sea-change occurred when the web ceased to be primarily textual, and became visual.

Currently loving on:

Mason Proper - Rest Up
(live in the WOXY lounge)

I still can't get enough Mason Proper, and their latest appearance in the WOXY lounge, their second, sounded great. I have Rachael from Underrated to thank for tipping me off to Mason Proper, so props!

I am lead to believe that the next global shift in the web will be visual also, when 3d replaces 2d. Not sure if Second Life fills the bill. I could be wrong, though, web 2.0 represents a decentering of the web object, shifting focus to the audience, and though web 2.0 applications do tend to share a visual look (well, rounded corners, obv, and tableless design), this is mostly stylistic, an attempt to "look 2.0".

My personal take is that the emerging web is still primarily solipsistic and protective, but I see the self-sustaining nature of WikiPedia becoming more pervasive as online identities become less anonymous.

Peter Parker was a reporter. Perhaps in the 21st C, he'd be a blogger. As his secret identity Spiderman, he maintains law and order in his friendly neighborhood, even though sometimes he has a hard time explaining how Peter Parker happened to be on the scene when he shows the photographs to J. Jonah Jameson later.

For the most part, the web is a friendly neighborhood, and Spiderman has a lot of help. I've seen plenty of flame-wars end with a troll banned or otherwise ejected, and the neighborhood returns to order. And people stand up for each other on the web, and for the things they believe in, against the tyrannies of homophobia, misogyny, civil liberties or any other unacceptable behavior. And I am proud of these people.

I think there is a tipping point in one's life when one gains a certain notoriety for one thing, and then applies that notoriety to reaching a wider audience.

And therein lies something I find problematic: Spiderman is notorious, Peter Parker is not. But Spiderman is the facade. We live in a time when anyone with a PC and an ISP can create a web presence online (myspace page etc), and the only reason many choose to remain anonymous is because that is the norm. A forum could decide that it would only allow posts from members who have created a web presence (an online location to associate with this person if they act in a destructive fashion; a personal namespace) - at this point, true dialog begins to emerge from identification.

Of course, this ability exists already, but is not a norm, and this sort of dialog runs against the extreme virtualization of Second Life and its ilk. Wikipedia and Digg are other examples of applications which successfully blend anonymity and collaboration.

I am increasingly enjoying Danah Boyd's Apophenia Blog. At the top of her blog roll is a little notice:

Welcome! If you're new, please check out Best-Of Apophenia. A feed for this blog is here.

This is fantastic! The Best-of link is a great idea! I can't count the number of times I've come across a weblog, liked what the person has to say, but been unable to really get a bead on where they're coming from, ideals etc. Putting a Best-of link right up front tells new and familiar visitors alike what you consider to be the writing that has best conveyed What you are trying to say. The words you choose are like the clothes you wear when you travel around the web-o-sphere - these are your red and blue spandex, so why not make them noticeable?

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