“+1” is a convention that arose on the Apache Software Foundation mailing lists. The ASF still has the best, most functional process for mailing list based collaboration which has ever been evolved of which -1/0/+1 is only the thin wedge. (the whole vocabulary of lazy consensus, commit-then-review, etc is incredibly important when trying to implement a diversity of tactics over email, as we ran into time and time again with Indymedia). Worth exploring their process in depth.
Anyway, Google launched a “+1” product today, and there was some discussion as to where the “+1” convention came from. The first place I ever encountered it was this email from Rob Hartill, on Wed, 15 Mar 1995, as part of one of the early patch voting rounds on Apache 0.7.x (the Apache foundation having formed the previous month to turn NCSA httpd into Apache).
I'll use a vote of
-1 have a problem with it
0 haven't tested it yet (failed to understand it or whatever)
+1 tried it, liked it, have no problem with it.
Rob might have adapted it from an earlier source, but I’ve never seen it.
For folks interested in Diaspora, you should check out Crabgrass, developed by the Riseup tech collective to provide secure, powerful tools for social organizing its already used by a wide range of activists, the UN, and even the CIA (rumor has it).
Twitter has #followfriday. If I were ever to rebuild Flickr from the ground up, I’d collapse the distinction between tags and groups for thematic collaboration. Explicit grouping is useful only when you need to create a sense of place, a trick most easily accomplished in virtual environment by articulating a membership, and a history. Collaboration does not need place, it needs energy.
I’m not really qualified to write or say anything about Raindrop, Aaron pointed it out to me yesterday, and I immediately got bogged in the marketing speak on the page. Still, I was sitting at El Beit this morning thinking that if El Beit was Ritual I could have struck up a conversation with person sitting next to me, and we could have had a conversation about our mutual inability to get past the marketing speak, and besides this whole “qualified” filter is a tension largely created by the professional blogging class, who are frankly boring as a sin, every last one of them.
So, once I got done talking (very very quietly) about how Raindrop sounds awesome, but also kind Chandler-ishly vague, I saw this Twitter from Sonny, “Raindrop is the innovative idea that Google Wave was hoping to be.”
Which got me all kinds of excited again. And also musing on the failures of Wave. Really hoping that Raindrop can be useful to me, whether or not you’re also using it, Google is qualified to build boil the sea solutions, but they lack elegances.
Just the name Raindrop sort of sounds to me like something that could build slowly to a crescendo, a “delicious play”: a tool useful long before its adoption curve cross the plane where its latent social dimension is revealed. (my imaginary friend is old school, he pointed out that IM tools successfully required people to opt-in to build value and they’ve done fairly well, to which I can only say times were simpler when ICQ was launched and we were all more desperate for better tools, and AOL already had a meaningful desktop internet install base they could upgrade largely in place)
And then Raindrop has all this buzz about personal/people centricity, but I’m worried not to see much acknowledgement on the failure of RSS readers. Its easy to get confused by the real time web buzz and think people actually want real time, comprehensive information. Fuck that. I want a tool that delivers meaningful, timely information, everything else is just anxiety producing.
Blaine has done a lot of good thinking, and talking, and not nearly enough good writing on the game changing, sea change that is the switch from pull-to-push, that perhaps the white-list vs black-list is the most important kladistic trait, and I’m wondering if papering over those divides in a single client misses the point. (Blaine useful refers to this as, “the total fucking brokenness which is email” or words to that effect) It’s something I’ve been meditating on a late into the night recently having just opened a new push communication channel on Flickr.
“Raindrop uses a mini web server” is also old school. Wow. There was a really wild and wooly bunch of apps being evolved at the end of the 20th century that largely died out, interesting to see that design idea still kicking out interesting creatures. (this is what Aaron calls the I-hate-to-admit-it-but-Dave-Winer-was-right principle)
And while I love to see Flickr get love, “flickr arrives, your messaging client should be able to show the video or photos near or as part of the message”, it really raises the question in a system of social object sharing, what is the object? Just the photo? Something else? (and smacks a bit of the one-system-to-rule them all, which is cool, but again, see Chandler, and Dreaming in Code)
What can I say, that’s the sort of thing my imaginary friend and I talk about. Now I guess I should go finish reading those docs.
… I mean Flickr/Upcoming/Delicious. In particular, I mean that brief moment of optimism in the Spring of ’06, on the roof of the Iron Cactus, at the Spread the FUD party, when it looked like Yahoo! had a wedge and the will to solve the social search problem, and magically, I might even get to be a part of that. I said in my cover letter (in silly flowery, cover letter speak)
“The next round of innovation will be about building connections. The explosion of voices, information and ideas is currently outpacing our techniques for coping with them. We need to be helping people and communities find new ways to connect, interact, and work together to make sense of this accelerating decentralization. Innovation has been blossoming at the edges of the Net since the beginning, but innovation is also moving back to the connecting nodes, like Yahoo.”
Which is much on my mind when I hear about Marissa demo’ing social search yesterday.
And I’m deeply puzzled (and not a little disappointed) that anyone would care if Bing or Google can search the public status timelines, if it doesn’t come with social context.
Now the question is can Goog shake their historied failure at all things social.
Walking into work this morning, thinking about the vibrancy of the Twitter API developer ecosystem. Twitter has embraced (not necessarily intentionally) what I see to be open source’s two key aphorisms on successful community engagement (lightly paraphrased)
People don’t go back often enough to the well of hard fought wisdom on community and online collaboration which the open source community developer. Believe me you do not want to spend the blood, sweat and tears to re-learn those lesson the hard way, they were fighting for a noble cause they believed in and it still sucked. Your micro-poking app ain’t all that.
A griot (pronounced /g?i.??/ in English or [??i.o] in French, with a silent t) or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African poet, praise singer, and wandering musician, considered a repository of oral tradition. – Wikipedia
Also an emerging tag for describing the ongoing protest in Athens over a 16 year old being shot to death at point blank range by Athens policemen.
Clearly the next evolution in participatory media (and the only type with a future) is figuring out what the tools to discover, distribute and broadcast these meta-media collaborative objects. Who is thinking and writing about this?
One of the key topics (I think) in my Casual Privacy talk last week was the importance of “context” in privacy and sharing. That some people have trouble understanding how fundamental context is to all social interactions was my primary take away from SG Foo, and I’ve been preaching it quietly where I can.
All by way of saying, I made one of my rare visits to FriendFeed this evening, and I was reminded that I consistently regret it. Breaking down those contextual walls means I consistently like the people I find there less then I did when I was able to interact with them in isolated manners; fire walling the aesthetic from the technical from the political from the personal.
Places is a new Flickr feature that mines our corpus of geotagged photos, identifies characteristic features on a per location basis, and then goes back into the data looking for “iconic” beautiful photos. (btw try reloading that /places page, the feature places are random. As to a certain degree are the photos on the individual Places pages themselves)
It also is where a good chunk of my creative energy went for the last few months which is why the blog has been so quiet. And its a hell of a lot of fun, not to mention a privilege and pleasure to deep dive into our database and be reminded just how much fabulous photography there is on Flickr, and maybe just barely fumble around the edges of surfacing the diverse communities shared vision. Eyes of the world indeed.
A Place for GeoRSS feeds
Dan roped me in on Places months ago. We had geoFeeds working for semi-arbitrary places, and we needed a page to hang them off of. That page looked a lot like search result. You never saw it because the Flickr project management process (a blog post of its own) left that particular prototype a bloody, heaving wreck. Don’t worry, the current version is much much much better. (of course you also never saw Dan’s brilliant prototype of the current version, which was too cool to release on an unsuspecting public) And voila, many months later, the feeds are there. (though I’d still like to bring back that SRP view to allow rich searching within a location)
Increased Surface Area
We brought a bunch of different design goals to Places, but one of my obsessions that I think we nailed was the idea of “increasing the surface area” of Flickr. (also known as providing new ways to level up in the Game of Flickr[tm]). Only a few people, and a limited range of styles will ever be featured on the Flickr Explore pages. Which is fine, most people don’t care. But Places provides another way to recognize the contributions of Flickr members, by hilighting their geotagging and their photography skills. I’m looking forward to adding a couple more similar features to Places, recognizing other Flickr Games one can level up in, and other contributions back to the commons you can make.
A bunch of stuff didn’t make our initial launch. Some of that has come in since then. More will be coming. I’m particularly excited about using adding some new data sources to improve the page. (e.g. the Groups right now a bit weak, and we don’t have reliable neighborhoods in cities, both of which are in process of being fixed)
Turns out there are a lot of San Franciscos in the world, and we personally struggle to keep track of which one is which. So we’ve been experimenting with giving them unique place_ids. If you look really close you’ll start to see these popping up around flickr, in photos.getInfo, photos.search, and as microformats on the Places pages. Its all very experimental, this unique identifiers thing, but we think it might work.
Arm Chair Travel
And because I love you, I’m going to let you in a on a secret. Have a great trip.
So how do you do that — stitch together 3 different sites to provide a unified experience? Visions of APIs, Internet scale SSO, and messaging layers spring to mind. Or more likely hash and slash patches, jury rigged shunts, juggled install directories.
We did the dumb easy thing, and I’m surprised more people don’t do it.
Crowdvine.com sets a cookie collusion. This cookie contains the data we needed to display the logged in view of iCalico. (you’re nickname and optional your URL). In addition it contained a md5 hash of the concatted data, plus sekret known only to Tony and myself.
If we find the cookie collusion, we load the described user from the database, or create it on the fly behind the scenes.
There is no step 3.
Amazingly useful, trivially simple, ultimately flexible. Niche sites are great, but you need techniques for stitching them together before they can realize their potential as pieces of an ecosystem. I don’t necessarily expect to see this kind of integration become more common, but I think it would be great if it did. (and in the name of transparency disposable apps are huge enablers, disposable sites/apps is another pattern I’m puzzled we don’t see more of — its as if we more inclined to converse bits then landfill)
update: Whoops, it was pointed out there was a step 3, or rather a step 1.5: use CNAMEs to point to individual components on sub-domains.
Unfortunately the project is flawed, because the basic question is flawed, fundamentally and in a very simple way. We have moods, we have shifting interests, and trying to compile all those multi-variates into a single vector of interest is impossible.
Rather then making the computers super smart, I’d rather see an interface like the Pandora channel creation where you choose 2-4 songs that suit your mood and the system finds the common elements.
Tonight at the video store I wanted something that was smart and fast enough to be engaging, without being so smart that it took work to follow. Maybe a political thriller? If I could have mixed a recommendation queue out of 3 Days of the Condor meets Wag the Dog meets something like Enemy of the State to find something in that vein that would have been better then all the weighted neural nets.
And I’ll wave the million dollars if they just build it already.
Not sure where this systemic biasis for computer as deep thinker comes from, probably dates all the way back to the Ultra project and other primordial computer science legends. But its the wrong metaphor here and now, smarter, smaller tools to extend the human reach, not replace humans.