Blogs and wikis thoughts (for Brian)

Brian's asking for comments to help build a presentation tonight. I'm cutting it awfully close to the wire (the presentation starts in just over an hour) but hopefully another trackback will help...

What is most significant about the emergence of blogs and/or wikis?

The biggest thing about these self-publishing tools is that they're self-publishing, natch. You don't need to be a geek to be able to publish to the 'net anymore - and this stuff has the potential to "fix" the web, which was supposed to be a dynamic network of linked content published by individuals, but got co-opted into a variation of the TV broadcast model, with users sitting in front of glowing screens receiving the content that The Man wants to feed them (picture a scene from Max Headroom or something). Instead, we can effectively publish our own content, with whatever authority we can muster. Individuals are just as able as companies (large and small) - as an example, this blog currently has a Google rank of 6, which is higher ranked than some companies. That would have been impossible without easy and effective self-publishing tools.

In your mind, what is most misunderstood (or little understood) about these tools?

That they make you interesting. ;-) They don't. It's just a tool to help publish content. Just because you have a blog, doesn't mean anyone cares. On the flipside, however, if you are even remotely interesting (or at least not completely boring), I can guarantee that no matter how narrow your area of interest, there are others online searching out blogs about it...

Are blogs and wikis evolving into something else?

Blogs and wikis (and mashups, and other stuff) are all just baby steps. To what? I have no idea. I have a hunch that Gibson may have been onto something (for good or bad) with his concepts of pervasive online communities. These types of things become possible once the tools evolve a little.

What are the implications of these publishing tools on ideas, public opinion and free speech?

Well, I can answer this from personal (recent) experience. It's really easy to say something stupid. And thanks to the wonders of RSS, people find out about it in a hurry. And it's not undoable (there is no Delete key on the internet). It's not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind before posting your innermost ramblings and stuff like that...

What are a few of your essential blog reads or wiki communities?

Abject Learning, of course ;-) Actually, I'm currently subscribed to 115 "edublogs" (loosely defined), most of which I consider essential reading. (OPML for these feeds) Won't name names on who gets the coveted 5-Star rating in Blogbridge (yet)...

Anything else?

Just that his whole read/write web thing is pretty cool. I seriously doubt I'd be as effective at making connections between emerging concepts/projects/people as I am with access to the "blogosphere" (gack). Just relax, Neo. There is no blog.

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