Just wanted to get this little ditty out:
If you don't know who he is, Taleb wrote a very popular book called 'The Black Swan', which takes it title from an old English saying that equated something impossible with seeing a black swan. Well, that saying got messed up when black swans were seen in Australia in the 18th century.
A great anecdote, created by his brother, he brought up to illustrate the overall point of the 'black swan' was the story about the turkey and the butcher.
Basically, the turkey views the butcher as this benevolent person, who constantly attends to the well-being of the turkey. And when the butcher comes one day to kill him, the turkey is astounded at the unpredictability of the butcher's behavior. Of course, to the butcher, it was all very predictable. Down to the chop.
Moral of the story: You can't always predict things based on past trends.
Corollary (for me at least): There are views that do make these 'black swans', these amazingly unpredictable events, predictable.
One other thing he mentioned that keeps me thinking and ties to the Long Now perspective is about the wisdom of old folks being a resource in how to deal with black swan moments. Hm...
Josh Cantone, on Read Write Web has a run-down of a bunch of different ways to lifestream (link below). I don't know about you, but I think that's significant.
He also points to an earlier article (primer) by Rich McManus. It was reading some stuff by RIch about lifestyle aggregators that initially got me thinking of this and was a driving thought behind the stuff I did here at Nokia.
The great thing is that there is a large collection of ways folks are doing lifestreaming. With each one, we end up learning more about what works and doesn't, increasing the chance of a big breakthrough (in the next 6 months?).
One other thing that Josh points out, is Jeremy Keith is one of the early explorers in this space. Interesting. I'd forgotten that.
It's a pretty good bet that if you're not making a Twitter or Facebook application, you're probably making a lifestreaming application.
Kevin Kelly has written a great essay on the current challenges to human identity, challenges from tech, society, and new knowledge.
I think this ties a lot into some previous comments I made related to emergence and the like.
Link: Kevin Kelly -- The Technium:
A major theme of this present century will be the pursuit of our collective identity. We are on a search for who we are. What does it mean to be a human? Can there be more than one kind of human? In fact, what exactly is a human?
I posted the following comment:
A while back I had a thought about how things go from simple to complex, hopping to the next layer of complexity and then complexifying once more (the basic emergence thinking). It's similar to SBJohnson's Long Zoom and comments from Alex Wright on information architecture.
One thing that struck me was some sort of subservience to the network above - best exemplified by ants, who seemingly have subsumed their lives to the network at the hive-organism level.
Logically, I concluded that humans (who are clearly a network of individual cells who have subsumed their existence to the human-organism) must at some level subsume their existence to the network above them - society.
Sure we do that, sort of. But I get a feeling that current society is like the volvox to multi-cellular creatures. Or isn't it?
And consequently, what _is_ the network next up that societies must be subsumed under?
But, in all this, I see what gives us humans the anxiety of identity is that we think we _must_ be individuals with free will. But as the network above us gets more complex (indeed mobile phones and the intarwebs are part of this) we refuse to turn ourselves into subsumed parts of a greater network. We try to have a global view or control of that network a layer up.
In summary, our identity was simply a construct as we solidified the strength of the organismal network. Now as we become 'cells' in the next network up, that network will force us to subsume our global views as we become parts in a network.
One more thing: Arthur C Clarke's 'Childhood's End' sort of is a story of humans stepping up into the next level and subsuming their identity.
There's a lot the gets me thinking when I read about ancient human history, such as what was life like, or what did the world look, smell, and sound like.
The post references an event that made my head spin when I found out about it long ago - a massive volcano eruption that caused a 6 year extended winter and left an estimated 10,000 humans alive. That's one heck of a bottleneck.
In 'Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan suggested that our myths and fears of reptiles might be some genetic memory of the age of dinosaurs (there were only teeny mammals back then). But, that has always made me wonder what deep ingrained memory we might have from events 10-, 20-, or 100-thousand years ago. Might we have some sort of recollection of this massive volcano eruption, some memory encoded in our culture, way of living, or language?
And looking at this animation, I was reminded how much of the human population was along the coastlines. Yeah, I read that many time before, but seeing it in an animation made the point stick.
All this beach-combing reminded me of one of the many questions I have been carrying unanswered: 'Why are children so in love with water - pools and beaches?'. Might the extreme psychic draw to play in water that children exhibit be to learn some sort of critical survival skill for a coastal species?
The list of names of the companies in this TechCrunch article looks like my own watch list.
If you are curious why I think 2008 is about lifestreams, then just see how many folks have popped up or added lifestream aggregation.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the startup feature du jour. Facebook first popularized the news feed in late 2006. Later others took the idea and opened it up, creating a news feed around activities on a variety of social networks. FriendFeed is the most popular, and recently raised a $5 million round of financing. Plaxo, Soup.io, Iminta, Spokeo, ProfileLinker, MyLifeBrand, Fuser, 30Boxes, Mugshot, Readr and Second Brain all have variations. Party planning site MyPunchbowl recently released its version. And now, Facebook is planning to open up their NewsFeed and allow users to add other services as well.
I've been playing with Socialthing for a few weeks (link to blog below). They recently outed themselves at SXSW, and were blessed with a barrage of traffic from TechCrunch.
Of course, they are not he first on scene, and are now being compared to FriendFeed (which I have also played with).
My take on FriendFeed is that they are too focused on ‘me’ and ‘pubilc’ instead of ‘friends’ and ‘private’.
For example, the only reason I would want to aggregate my own lifestream is to show it to someone else (FriendFeed). The reason I want to aggregate my friends’ lifestreams is to follow them all from one place, hence I don’t want to see my own stream (SocialThing). Ok, so I might be simplistic and egotistic here, but it's what I am looking for in lifestream aggregators (though I've been mulling over some earlier comments).
I, so far, like the way they have it set up. It dovetails with a lot of my thoughts over the past years.
Now, they mention ‘post stuff back the network’. I need to learn more.
Link: A semi-FAQ
Socialthing! is and always has been about making your digital life easier. We bring your friends into one interface, make it easy to post stuff back to the networks, and just in general, try to make social networking easier.
He makes a reference to the rise and collapse of CB Radio, and then spells out in his usual thoroughness, that the social networking emperor has no clothes (hm, not sure if that's a good metaphor).
In my comment on the post, I mentioned that I too have been saying:
1) We don't need another social networking service
2) He who brings the pieces together holds the attention - pointing to the opportunities for for social network aggregators (strong influence I was able to bring to Ovi.com)
3) Facebook has become an annoying Julie McCoy.
I keep seeing it this way:
What do you think?
Most of you know that I am working on setting up the Nokia social media communications site (uh, a blog for now), to be called Nokia Conversations.
One thing that we want to stress is not product features and service stats, but stories - stories about how things come into being at Nokia, stories about things Nokia is doing beyond products and services, and stories about people from the 'Nokia neighbourhood'.
An example of a kind of story we would write about (I am actually not sure if my editorial team will actually be writing something on this) is about these two guys who drove a 'banger', a banged up old Mercedes, from Plymouth, England to Banjul, Gambia. It was a fund drive for the Macmillan Cancer Support.
Nokia donated a Sat Nav 330 and a Nokia 6110 Navigator to help these guys wend their way down to Gambia.
A DETECTIVE and his brother-in-law from March will embark on the challenge of a lifetime when they travel 4,000 miles unsupported from Plymouth to Banjul. And to make the task even more daunting they will be doing the whole thing in a 'banger'. The duo, Det Sgt Sean Gladwell, from the serious and organised crime department, and his brother-in-law Tim Cox, who is the director of ROI Distribution Ltd, a software distribution company of Norwood Road industrial estate, March, have been trying for three years to take part in the 'Banger to Banjul' challenge to raise money for charity.
One more thing: As soon as I posted this, I got another email telling me about another Nokia-sponsored navigation challenge that is related to fund-raising, this time James Cracknell's Cross-continent Challenge. Must be a British thing.
Ty Burr is great.
How can a film that features a poorly shot attack by giant tree-climbing killer chickens be said to be good? Which rippeth off the ending of ‘‘Apocalypto,’’ pyramid and all, such that the great shaman Mel Gibson could sue?
And I saith to you, verily, it is a bad movie, with foolish racial politics, and indeed it may someday be spoken of as the worst of the year 2008. But I also saith to you that I had a strangely good time, and whether that is from laughing at ‘‘10,000 B.C.’’ or laughing with it I knoweth not, although I strongly suspect the former.
And it should be pointed out that Roland of the clan of Emmerich, who hath fashioned this tale, hath not ascended once more to the level of ‘‘Independence Day’’ but hath instead settled comfortably in the Valley of the Saturday Matinee B-Movie, a land once inhabited by giants named Roger Corman and 1950s special-effects magician Ray Harryhausen, whom the giant killer chickens doth seem to honor in their stop-motion jerkiness.
So, yea, it is a stinker. But it is prophesied that in six months time you shall come across ‘‘10,000 B.C.’’ in the land of Pay-Per-View. And you shall say: ‘‘Pass the popcorn.’’
While I am part of the Facebook bashers (well, bashers of the current Facebook craze), I always feel that I am dead wrong, since so many folks are still signing up and using it.
But recent reports (link below) are hoping to sound the death-knell for Facebook and other social networking services.*
Eh, I'm an impartial skeptic and will only believe any slow-down after a few months, no matter how well the indictor (remember, only one indicator in one country) might support any of my arguments.
But, speaking of other indicators, Google has click-through issues with AdSense and MySpace also is showing a UK slowdown (see link below). Is this the bursting Bubble 2.0 (funny video) everyone loves to speculate about?
Nah. If anything, just the natural flow of users from network to network.
British internet users are falling out of love with Facebook and the social-networking site has shed 400,000 visitors between December and January, the website's first decline in users.
Facebook remains the UK's most popular social-networking site with 8.5 million unique users at the end of January, according to new figures from Nielsen Online. But that is down from 8.9 million in December.
*Indeed, we've seen in our research, already early last year, early-adopter burnout. Hence my harping about the rise of Vox and Twitter and Jaiku, closed circle social networking. I'm just wondering what's next (and I have my ideas).
Finally found out that Twitter has been publishing a few stats on usage.* Pretty interesting.
One that got me was the distribution of how many people per user if followed or following:
So, if you have about 10 followers and you're following about 10 people then you're Twittering away with a solid 50% of others like you using Twitter. If have more than 80 followers and you're following more than 70 people then you are in the Twitter minority—about 10%.
Ok, I wished that had given some indication of active versus non-active. Right? I bet a ton of the non-active accounts are 10 and under follow(ed/ers).
Oh, just realized that this was indeed for active users. Cool.
*They've started this stats section with the Twitter stats on the Superbowl. Yup, I was definitely one of the twitterers that night. Alas, one of the sadder ones at the end.