“Global naming leads to global network effects.”

First, a reminder about what makes the Web, the Web….

W3C.org: Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One: 2. Identification:

In order to communicate internally, a community agrees (to a reasonable extent) on a set of terms and their meanings. One goal of the Web, since its inception, has been to build a global community in which any party can share information with any other party. To achieve this goal, the Web makes use of a single global identification system: the URI. URIs are a cornerstone of Web architecture, providing identification that is common across the Web. The global scope of URIs promotes large-scale “network effects”: the value of an identifier increases the more it is used consistently (for example, the more it is used in hypertext links (§4.4)).

Principle: Global Identifiers

Global naming leads to global network effects.

This principle dates back at least as far as Douglas Engelbart’s seminal work on open hypertext systems; see section Every Object Addressable in [Eng90].

What are the global – public – URI’s of Facebook? What are they in regards to any social network for that matter?

This is an important train of thought to consider when debating how Facebook and other social networks influence our relationship with Google, and the entire Web.

Facebook’s growth devalues Google’s utility – it devalues the public Web – at least how it is described in “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” and the Web’s own architecture document.

This is why Scoble can’t be more wrong when he says “Why Mahalo, TechMeme, and Facebook are going to kick Google’s butt in four years” because Facebook and other social networks are going to not only affect how we use Google – but will eliminate the utility of the Mahalo’s and TechMeme’s of the world – because they too rely on a robust and growing *public* URI ecosystem.

Dare: Why Google Should be Scared of Facebook:

What Jason and Jeff are inadvertantly pointing out is that once you join Facebook, you immediately start getting less value out of Google’s search engine. This is a problem that Google cannot let continue indefinitely if they plan to stay relevant as the Web’s #1 search engine.

What is also interesting is that thanks to efforts of Google employees like Mark Lucovsky, I can use Google search from within Facebook but without divine intervention I can’t get Facebook content from Google’s search engine. If I was an exec at Google, I’d worry a lot more about the growing trend of users creating Web content where it cannot be accessed by Google than all the “me too” efforts coming out of competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo!.

The way you get disrupted is by focusing on competitors who are just like you instead of actually watching the marketplace. I wonder how Google will react when they eventually realize how deep this problem runs?

None of this invalidates Scott Karp’s riff on Scoble’s main point – there is a growing role for “Trusted Human Editors In Filtering The Web”. Our friends, our families, our communities. Not just machines and algorithms.

My favorite and fellow bloggers, Slashdot, Salon, the home page of the NYTimes, Philly Future, Shelley Powers, Scott himself, my news reader subscriptions, are all trusted humans, or representations of trusted humans, filtering the Web for me.

There’s nothing new to that fact that people play a direct role in how we discover what may interest us on the Web. It goes back to Yahoo!’s earliest days. Back to links.net, back to the NCSA What’s New page. It goes to the heart of what blogging is all about.

People have been way too hung up on Digg’s voting algorithms and forget that what makes Digg, Digg is its community of participants.

People forget Slashdot outright. As they do Metafilter.

So it still comes down to trust – What organizations do we trust? What systems do we trust? What communities do we trust? What people do we trust?

And just how do we share that with each other?

4 thoughts on ““Global naming leads to global network effects.”

  1. Congrats on getting linked to from Scoble’s blog, and he even used your wording as the title 😛

    As an aside, you make one of the more legitimate arguments against his claim, too. I’m an admitted Scoble fan (most of the time) but his short sightedness is often shocking. Mahalo, like text messaging, is one of the dumbest steps BACKWARDS in technology that I can think of.

  2. I didn’t realize when I wrote this that I was one of many folks criticizing his piece. It’s cool to link to those that disagree with you. Pretty obvious he touched a nerve, even if he missed the mark.

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, involved in web development, should spend time absorbing (or re-absorbing) “Small Pieces Loosley Joined” and W3C.org Architecture doc. Realize that both are still relevant and it helps put into perspective almost all trends that you see some jump up and down and trumpet.

    And so does archive.org as well 🙂

    BTW, “Suck”?


  3. (this is as much about your previous post on this topic as this one, but still applicable)

    I definitely find this trend disturbing, especially as it related to blogs.

    My major litmus tests for a blog has always been an ability to search, read, and interact with the majority of its content without becoming a member of a third-party website. It’s a [we]blog, not a m[ysp]acelog or f[ace]b[ook]log, or whatever. At least Facebook calls them “notes.”

    Searchability is a sticking point that not enough people get hung up on. I’ve always blogged to be persistent, and findable. By restricting that aspect from your blog you are ultimately limited to the captive audience of whatever proprietary service you’ve set up on. Some ponds get big enough and make themselves open enough that it doesn’t really matter (i.e. LiveJournal), but even at that point it can obstruct meaningful blogging (i.e. MySpace).

    Unfortunately, I think my definition is on the losing side of the war – the media (and, thus, lay-bloggers) don’t understand the distinction, so blog has become synonymous with journal.

    On the upside, now I finally know what it’s like to be a crotchety old person.

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