Once around the blog way

My brother Dante has a blog (hi Dante!).

Howard is posting poetry.

And read the Inquirer’s Dan Rubin, who wrote about the passing of his beloved companion, Twinkle. I wish I had the capacity to write so well about one loved so much. It’s a moving tribute that will make you cry.

Being there, at the vet’s, when Teddy passed, changed Richelle, her mom and me in some indescribable, significant way. If we had the opportunity to change the decision to be there, I don’t think the three of us would decide differently, no matter how painful. Teddy is still walking around this house and Richelle’s parents. He’ll always be with us.

53 men and 1 woman

That’s the composition of speakers at an upcoming Office 2.0 conference.


Read Shelley Powers and Jeneane Sessum.

Edit: I removed an unfunny reference. This isn’t subject matter to take lightly.

Having one woman speaker among so many men seems shortsighted, and honestly – weird. It’s especially a shame, because the subject matter being covered is important not only to enterprises, but small and home businesses.

Social software can’t be a fad since the WEB is social software

I’m rather disappointed in the round of discussion I’m reading following Ryan Carson’s piece at Vitamin: “Why I don’t use social software”.

It’s a thought provoking piece, but along with responses to it I’ve read, from Phil Edwards, Nick Carr, Mathew Ingram, Kent Newsome, for example, they seem to share the same fallacy – that social software is new. That it is a recent phenomenon. That what Digg, del.icio.us, Netscape.com, and MySpace represent is something fundamentally different then what’s come before and that we need to beware the hype.

Just like these writers, I’m tired of the hype as well, but to suggest that these services represent something new, is to fall for it. Even to inflate it. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Web, it would appear, agrees. From the article’s referenced transcript :

LANINGHAM: You know, with Web 2.0, a common explanation out there is Web 1.0 was about connecting computers and making information available; and Web 2 is about connecting people and facilitating new kinds of collaboration. Is that how you see Web 2.0?

BERNERS-LEE: Totally not. Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.

And in fact, you know, this Web 2.0, quote, it means using the standards which have been produced by all these people working on Web 1.0. It means using the document object model, it means for HTML and SVG and so on, it’s using HTTP, so it’s building stuff using the Web standards, plus Java script of course.

So Web 2.0 for some people it means moving some of the thinking client side so making it more immediate, but the idea of the Web as interaction between people is really what the Web is. That was what it was designed to be as a collaborative space where people can interact.

To ask if “Social Media” is a passing fancy is to ask if Amazon.com or eBay are passing fancies. To ask if Slashdot is a passing fancy. To ask if the Web itself is a passing fancy.

As I mentioned over in Nick Carr’s comment thread, these aren’t the examples branded about by the media, or by the digerati these days.

The conversation seems to have no groundings in what’s come before, and in what’s already been established:

Those who remember the empowering effects of Netscape and the moment email became more than just borrowing your mate’s CompuServe account at work will also recognize such blanket assertions of historical revisionism for what they are.

The fact is the most successful web services – since the beginnings of the web – were social software applications. The Web’s participatory architecture lends itself to them. It’s always been a Two Way web as Dave Winer would say.

We’re simply seeing an evolution of what’s come before. The revolution is that so much of it has become mainstream (MySpace is mainstream) and the barriers to launching a service that incorporates participation have fallen so low. Not that there is some new fangled set of features that everyone must go out and implement to stay relevant.

Knocking some hot air out of the hype is warranted. Some of these newer services resemble those dot coms that launched in the late nineties that didn’t grasp what Amazon.com, eBay, Blogger, and others, were *really* doing. You know, those sites that thought if they had a clever domain name, niche, and a particular set of features, they were on their way to riches.

And it looks like today’s media hype resembles that late nineties hysteria in more then a few respects. Just listen to Rob Hersov, then boss of Sportal, in a Guardian look back on the Dot Com Crash:

Those were incredibly heady days,” he says. “Fun – absolutely. We thought we were making a difference. We thought we were getting out there, shaking things up, doing something no one had done before. We really were pioneers – buccaneers.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

But there is something to be concerned about here. That the words “social software” and “social media” become part of a lexicon that represents a massive failure up the road. And that will obscure an important set of truths.

I worked for a company, which was already far ahead of the curve, prior to the Dot Com Crash. It looked at the failures of that era as an indicator that the Web as a whole wasn’t a place to continue to invest as heavily.

What a mistake that was. And now it no longer exists.

By and large it was “social media” that survived the original dot com crash. And I expect that, by and large again, the best “social media” will survive whenever next bubble pops.

So when the next time of reckoning comes, and it will, look at what lives on. And think about why.

Burn this in your brain – the Web *is* social software.

And re-read “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” while you’re at it.