See the Update below.
StorageMojo.com has been both Slashdotted and Digg’d. Those events prompted me to think about non-Google methods for finding the interesting and the meaningful in the massive slush pile of the web.
Information Tells Us What We Want To Know
Search engines like Google can find the proverbial needle in a haystack in a flash. Yet as much as humans desire information, our real thirst is for meaning. Those of us with the luxury of food and shelter crave more: knowledge, mastery, touch and above all, meaning. What does our knowledge and access to information mean?
Meaning Tells Us What We Need To Know
Massive stores of searchable information can satisfy our curiousity without satisfying our souls. That satisfaction may be as simple as saying “Hello World” by uploading a video to affirm our existence. Or more complex: building and sharing in online communities. For example the Open Source Software movement is fueled by the social need to be seen and appreciated for building cool software.
The Rise and Fall of Yahoo and Slashdot
What explains the rise of Massive Multi-Editor Content. With massive amounts of data available across the web, and rates of growth of well over 100x per decade web content is flooding the market. Google may be able to index it, but they aren’t (yet) able to tell you what is interesting or meaningful.
The Rise of Social Editing
Just as Yahoo fell victim to Google’s Page Rank, which replaced an individual editor’s judgement with the judgement of linkers, so Slashdot and other individually edited sites will fall victim to the social editing of the Diggs of the world. Experts, be they editors or academics are easily overrated, especially by themselves.
The Annoying Nicholas Carr
doesn’t understand the demand curve for low comedy on YouTube or Google. While I agree that YouTube appears to have no sustainable business model, the impulse it serves and its group-based ranking are valuable to the communities that contribute and watch.
Massively Parallel Content Generation Requires Massively Parallel Editing
This isn’t a paean to the “wisdom of crowds” – although American democracy depends on it – as much as an appreciation of the value of conversation. For that is what sites like Digg enable: a conversation between producers of content and consumers of content. The social editing of content brings us together in ways more subtle and important than the content itself. It reminds us that we are all part of the larger enterprise of humanity, no matter how silly, sad or even futile that may seem.
Update: The Meaning In Money
So I look at the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) this morning and behold:
The explosive growth of Internet video is allowing people not only to find an audience for their amateur productions. Now they can actually earn money from them. San Diego-based Eefoof Inc., launched just over a week ago, shares 50% of its profits from text ads and banner ads with users who upload their own online video clips. Shares are distributed based on the number of hits a particular video receives.
Take that annoying Nick!