You are browsing the archive for 2015 April.

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by nmw


2015-04-30 in Uncategorized

This post is a preliminary sketch of a number of threads that could be interwoven… that could become a fabric, but as yet are still just loose threads. They are closely related to something I wrote the other day about language, technology and evolution (see “Neither Not at All Nor Completely“).

Ownership has some good characteristics, and some that are not so good — maybe even bad. In general, I think it is an illusion, a way of thinking that clouds our ability to think clear thoughts.

On the good side: If you believe in something, then you should own it — or maybe at least try to own it. There’s no need to say “So-and-so was great, and he said this”. I don’t care about So-and-so — what do you think? (see also “Subjectivity + Rationality“).

In a similar vein, people seek to “own their own narratives” — to write their own story, take their own paths, live their own lives. That is all good and fine, but this is one of the ways the illusion starts creeping in. For example: Without the path beneath your feet, how could you “take it”? You can’t. As I wrote a couple days ago (again, see “Neither Not at All Nor Completely“), you are also the other thing (in this example: the path)… — or because it is indeed not you, you can’t really own it.

In the case of language this could be the words I am using here and now: although I might be able to own the story or the narrative, the words I need to express them — to communicate the ideas to/with you — are shared (indeed: they would probably be worthless if they weren’t shared). This is to some degree a network effect — much like the path that connects two locations with each other, sharing a common concept is useful to both of us.

One other thread that also ties into this general space is involvement. In order for a shared, common space to be useful to a community, the members of the community need to be actively involved in maintaining the common technology. When people use a particular dialect or jargon, then the shared meaning is exclusive to those who are members of that particular community, and who actively maintain those concepts and thereby maintain those particular meanings and concepts within that community.

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by nmw

Web Anxiety

2015-04-27 in Uncategorized

I think many people fear the World-Wide Web. My hunch is mainly based on the way people behave on websites like they may “like” if you add a comment, but if you write up an idea somewhere other than facebook and then post a link to what you wrote, they tend to be much less appreciative and/or supportive. I wonder why this is.

One explanation is: When someone writes a comment on someone else’s post, the person who started the post feels that they are being paid attention to (regardless of which website they post on — their own or someone else’s). Likewise: a link “away” from the post is interpreted as detracting from that post (and the post’s initiator may feel this detraction is taking attention away from them personally).

Of course: People could engage at many different locations, but there is an uncertainty involved in switching from one location to another. Whether rational or irrational, people appear to have trust in some locations more than in other locations (cf. Subjectivity + Rationality). In general, people seem to have little trust in locations they are not familiar with — and a generalized kind of web anxiety is a sign of a relatively low level of literacy (or “online literacy”) with respect to navigating the web.

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Authors, Publishers and Publications: What is the Difference Between an Author and a Publisher?

2015-04-06 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I wrote about publishers on one of my “personal” blogs (see “Zen and the Art of Giga Om“), and I treated domains / websites / domain names as individual publications (many other people view them as outposts or shingles for people or companies; but I see them as quite analogous to the role book titles have had — especially insofar as each book title also needs to be associated with the author or authors and other publication information [such as details about the publisher, etc.] ).

Today, I thought more about these distinctions — especially the difference between authors and publishers. In my view, the most authentic form of publishing is “self publishing”, because that way there is nothing in between the author and the finished product (the publication)… and this is usually the case online — but not always.

There are some websites — many of them are quite “popular” — where authors submit their content, and then a separate entity (in this case, it makes sense to identify these entities as “publishers”) publishes the content (or not — according to the publisher’s discretion). All of what is commonly referred to as “social media” uses this publishing model. If someone were to sign up as a “member” of this website (, the situation would be quite similar. I also have other websites in which I publish content from various authors automatically (i.e., as “RSS feeds”), and then I also post my views on those (or similar) topics of interest to me. In this case, the model might be more along the lines of an approach used by “Readers’ Digest” or similar collections (another similar method is sometimes referred to as “content aggregation”).

Although I do feel that such methods of “content curation” (a sort of meta-content) will become more widespread over time — and here I wish to emphasize the important role of human intelligence, which will probably not be equaled by artificial intelligence or simple “brute force” algorithmic bean-counting machines within the foreseeable future (quite certainly not within decades, and perhaps not even within centuries)… nonetheless the vast majority of content — insofar as it might be deemed authentic (cf. “Authenticity Guidelines“) — will be self-published.

Therefore: Increasingly, in the vast majority of cases, authors and publishers will be one and the same person (or entity).

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