Cross-posted from futuremajority.com
A few times this year bloggers got
the wild hair to start talking about the potential we have to
bring more people to our government by making Congress more 2.0
It started way back in March, when Matt Stoller at Open Left
went off about
Franking Rules. Franking Rules are Congressional regulations
that limit what members of Congress can do in outreach to their
constituents. Sometimes too much outreach from a Congressional
office can be seen as “campaigning” and the Franking Rules protect
taxpayers from essentially paying for campaigns and creating an
unfair advantage for incumbents. Since I heard about them, I’ve not
stopped thinking about their implications. Well, in reality I had
been thinking about it before that back when Obama’s campaign
announced that it would make the Chief Technology Officer a
The problem in Congress is that our Franking Rules were last
updated back in 1998 before google, before mapquest and google
earth, before DailyKos, before an age when people actually had
access to information and their Representatives literally at their
fingertips. Thus they are out of step with where we are today, not
to mention the potential for the future, and it continues to grow
by leaps and bounds too quickly.
While I’ll agree that Congress’s use of technology is better
than they it used to be, there is still a huge lack of availability
for our members to use technology to create cheaper, more
connected, and more transparent relationships with their
Franking Rules state that unless you’re in the leadership you
can’t use anything outside the House/Senate firewall. So, YouTube
is technically not ok (even though most members are pushing the
envelope), no Facebook, or Myspace… nothing… (cont.)
The lack of a functional and user-friendly micro-payment system is
holding back a great deal of online commerce and broader
innovation. One of the many services aiming to change this is new
which has created a site that “enables people to leave tips for
stuff they love online, and also earn money for making the great
content that people want to tip.”
The site is
basic in concept and layout, but it’s functional and certainly easy
to use, which is why it’s been getting a good deal of traction.
Since launch on February 8, they already facilitated $1428.56 in
Abby and Ivan Kirigin, the brains behind TipJoy, say their
product addresses the reality that “consuming content online has
become a social experience.” It’s a place where “content creators
can go to view analytics on the performance of their content, where
you can track what your friends are tipping, and where you can
track what the whole world is tipping—like a Digg but with
As veterans of Web 2.0 with an insider perspective on where it’s
all headed, Abby and Ivan were kind enough to answer some questions
(as a tandem) about their service, the importance of micro-payment
systems, the realities of starting an online business and the
future of the web in general.
A: What sites do you expect to benefit most from
A&I: We expect that sites which have
‘meaty’ content will be the ones that benefit from
Tipjoy the most. For example we expect people would be interested
in tipping an article which provides a technical solution for them,
or enables them to solve a problem. That’s the kind of content that
a person is very eager to thank the maker for.
We also think that content providers at the long tail have a lot
2009 promises to be a big year on the media landscape as next stage public adoption of online product will spur tremendous growth. Here are 5 things to watch for:
- Tweet! Twitter explodes and joins the parade - MySpace --> YouTube --> Facebook --> Twitter - as an elite meme that everybody has heard of. In the process it requisitely transforms into a corporate tool and attracts an older demographic cohort.
- Online Advertising Hangs Tough Despite all of the end times rhetoric, online advertising actually increases 10%. The efficiency of the web is wreaking havoc on traditional media. Companies still need to advertise their products and eyeballs are continuing to flock to the web. Bang for the buck and big metrics make web media undeniably compelling.
- The Future Gets Hot The present stinks and people will turn their attention elsewhere. While many will pine for a return to the past they will be forced to look ahead. The doom and gloom of the economic meltdown and global warming combined with the incredible pace of technological change provide a fertile backdrop for projection. ABC's 2100, Discovery's 2057 and plenty of content about the next decade will push this meme to the forefront. Sweet.
A couple of weeks ago I pointed out a new trend that was exemplified by the creation process of the Twitter application Twittority. Where big social media influence blogs like Tech Crunch, Mashable and others have the power to effect what gets created by defining a pain point. This trend was further confirmed a couple of days ago when Rachel Cunliffe's post on Mashable predicted ways in which Twitter would evolve over 2009. In pretty much the same time frame as the Twittority example (overnight), Dan Zarella designed a solution app in response to one those predictions.
Mashable was quick to recognize this effort and tout their status as a product cycle influencer the following day.
The power of web 2.0 is on full display here. The conversation aggregating nature of influence blogs is a major driver and the incipient response of hackers augurs enormous potential. This growing community of "first responders" are enabled by a developing toolkit that facilitates quick and inexpensive solutions.
What will it take to empower the public to understand how
government data is being used, see where tax dollars are spent, and
jump-start public participation and informed debate about public
According to David Stephenson, a leading homeland security,
e-government, and crisis management strategist, the answer lies in
transparent government, a concept often synonymous with ideas like “public data”, “Google
government”, and “using Web 2.0 apps … to allow informed debate on
policy alternatives … to find convergences, possible synergies—and
wasteful overlaps; and to allow people with particular interests
and/or expertise to contribute to issues.”
“When dealing with the general public, there do need to be
restraints in some areas, such as national defense and security,”
points out Stephenson, “Otherwise, I’d argue transparency and
really encouraging the public to become involved should become the
default, and agencies should have to prove that information
shouldn’t be released, rather than the other way around.”
Cross-posted from 20bits
Let’s start with a picture from Radar Networks’ CEO Nova Spivack:
Erick Schonfeld, asking
Is Keyword Search About to Hit its Breaking Point?, talks about
Spivack’s view of the future of the web. According to him it lies
ever-more-refined search technologies such as semantic search,
natural language search, and artificial intelligence. A quote:
Keyword search engines return haystacks, but what we really
are looking for are the needles . The problem with keyword search
such as Google’s approach is that only highly cited pages make it
into the top results. You get a huge pile of results, but the page
you want—the “needle” you are looking for—may not be highly cited
by other pages and so it does not appear on the first page. This is
because keyword search engines don’t understand your question, they
just find pages that match the words in your question.
Spivack wants to “do for data what the Web did for documents”
and develop a standard, uniform system for semantic metadata. It’s
the classic “dumb software, smart data” idea. Tagging works to a
degree, but it’s neither uniform nor standard — the same tag can
mean two different things for two different people, and two
different tags can mean the same thing.
That said, the premise underpinning Spivack’s whole argument is
that search will is the correct interface when faced with a world
of exponentially-increasing information. His version of the future
says, “Keyword search will become increasingly inefficient and the
solution is to develop semantically-aware systems that search based
on meaning, rather than content.” (cont.)
One of the most exciting things about the promise of the Obama administration is their commitment to employing interactive communication technologies in an effort to better their stewardship of the country.
It was the utilization of these tools that spurred him to victory in a daunting primary process and pushed him to a convincing win in the general election. At a simple level, what he really did was engage anyone he could in conversation. That is the hallmark principle of web 2.0 and also of a good politician. I think this concept is at the center of why people (a whopping 79% approve of his handling of the transition) are so optimistic about what type of leader he may be. While it's true that we are in the midst of very difficult times and that will prod more folks into being open to and hopeful that Obama may lead us out of here, I think it is his continued commitment to conversation and engagement that offers the most potential upside.
Essentially a Wikipedia-meets-Facebook for the dead, new service Footnote.com follows Google News Archive Search as the second serious business model built around retro-active quantification of social information to make waves this week.
A one-stop shop for ancestral information, Footnote aggregates, sorts and structures historical documents “relating to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, US Presidents, historical newspapers, naturalization documents, etc”, then mixes in social networking and user feedback to create useful timelines, historical links and family trees. Basically, they’re trying to corner the market on ancestral information by taking the most comprehensive approach possible.
It’s a brilliant and inevitable idea. As Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, LinkedIn, Google, and Wikipedia dominate the social networking and information pie, other companies looking to strike it rich are forced to carve out more focused value niches outside the direct scope of the big boys. From a macro perspective, it’s clear that these companies need to mix a monetizable model with novel/valuable content and a good user experience. And that’s exactly what Footnote is trying to pull off here.
By focusing on historical information, Footnote is avoiding major head-on competition (though Google certainly will make a big dent, but – then again – is also a likely acquirer) as it tries to rapidly grow community and data value. As a result, it has become yet another force behind the relatively nascent Retro-Quant trend, essentially making it a smarter historian thanks to it’s unique techno-social approach.
The fact that such a business model makes perfect economic sense reinforces the notion that Retro-Quant will grow to become a multi-billion $ industry sometime over the next several years. There’s simply too much value to be unearthed: human behavioral data, hidden crime (on many levels), genetic/evolutionary patterns, cognitive patterns, etc.
How long before President Barack Obama refers to social media as the Fifth Estate?
When I sat down to write this timely piece about the role of social media in government I was hopeful that by calling it "The Fifth Estate" I was about to be somewhat clever and original. Sheesh, was I wrong. A quick search revealed that many bloggers and pundits have in fact been calling social media The Fifth Estate for a while now:
There are in fact hundreds, if not thousands, of references to social media as The Fifth Estate that go back many, many years.
This of course has once again got me thinking that 1) there is truly no such thing as an original idea, especially on a planet inhabited by billions of meme processors all hooked into one global web, and 2) as innocuous as it may seem to us at any given moment, social media is truly a breakthrough phenomenon that is absolutely critical to convergent acceleration.
MySpace and the Wall Street Journal are running a promotion that will send one MySpace user to the influential World Economic Forum Davos Conference as a "citizen journalist". Though the contest may seem like a novelty at this point in web history, it does mark one small step toward more official respresentation for the prosumer and web networks of the near-future.
Selected by an all-star panel of judges based on their compelling and heartfelt video submissions, the 5 finalists are all women with clear and well-stated messages for our world leaders. Each has garnered a community feedback score of between 72% and 88%, which means that they pass the public likability test. I am particularly struck by how well-rounded and inspiring the candidates come across.
Expecting a steady increase in prosumer behavior, proliferation of web-based economic clans and the growth of value generated by such, I imagine that contests such as this one will expand in coming years as participants in different social nodes gradually begin to demand more rights.
Already, the Chris DeWolfes (MySpace), Mark Zuckerbergs (Facebook), and Philip Rosedales (Second Life) of the world are regularly invited to speak at big events about the sizable online nations they lead. But how long will it take before web-based prosumers unionize and demand representation to the external world?