The technical conditions of communication and information processing are enabling the emergence of new social and economic practices of information and knowledge production. ((The Wealth of Networks: Direct link))
You may have read Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Networks, where he discusses Wikipedia as an example of commons-based peer-production. Did you know that you can see this relatively new model of knowledge and economic production live, in real-time? The video below is just one minute of Wikipedia edits recorded from the live changes on the irc.wikimedia.org #en.wikipedia channel. Using the IRC channel, you can watch Wikipedia being created as it happens, which means you can see the incremental production of collective knowledge as it happens. I recommend full-screen HD to see the detail as it passes up your screen. There are different channels for the different language versions. I chose the English version.
The Wikimedia site provides detailed statistics about the use of their sites, although the English Wikipedia statistics stop at October 2006 🙁 Perhaps there’s just too much activity on that site for them to collect and measure?
A lot of people still have an aversion to Wikipedia, but I don’t think they get it. Wikipedia is completely open to anyone to contribute. If you don’t think it’s good enough, ((See the famous Nature article which compared Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica [PDF])) isn’t it your (moral?) responsibility to correct and improve it? Like it or not, as a single source, it has by far the widest reach of any web-based learning resource and although I don’t have the time to substantiate this, I bet that after Google, it’s the second online resource that students visit when beginning their research. ((Via Twitter, AJCann just pointed me to some research he’d done which shows that 100% of his student cohort use Wikipedia)) If you challenge what’s happening on Wikipedia, you’re fighting a losing battle. Stop complaining and start contributing!
Personally, I watch the Wikipedia edits rolling up my screen, seeing contributions as they happen from individuals I’ll never know and am filled with optimism. Each edit is underwritten by a Creative Commons license which protects and preserves this body of knowledge for perpetuity. If there were world heritage sites on the Internet, Wikipedia would surely be the first to be recognised as such.
It’s made Dave Winer happy, which is no easy task, so I think PubSubHubbub is worth mentioning here. If it’s working as it should, this post should appear in my Google Reader, almost immediately after I’ve published it. That’s because PubSubHubbub is “a simple, open, server-to-server web-hook-based pubsub (publish/subscribe) protocol as an extension to Atom [and RSS].” My blog feed is managed by FeedBurner which has already implemented the new protocol, as has Google Reader FriendFeed. They should therefore ‘talk’ to each other in realtime. Watch the video and you’ll see how it works. It’s pretty straightforward. It just takes a company the size of Google to push it through to adoption. The engineers say they were using it like Instant Messaging the night before the demo, which says something about how responsive this is. Technically, it should be another challenge to Twitter in that it allows for a distributed method of near realtime communication. I’d like to see that. I feel like an idiot communicating within the confines of Twitter, sometimes.
Quickly following on from my previous post about realtime XMPP updates from wordpress.com:
For self-hosted WordPress blogs, there’s the Jabber Feed plugin, which promises something similar but is going to take me a while to set up. For something quick and simple, there’s the wp-sup plugin which “implements FriendFeed’s Simple Update Protocol. Your blog posts will appear on FriendFeed near-instantly after they are published.”
And indeed, they do. Even better, you can receive FriendFeed notifications via Google Talk/XMPP/Jabber, achieving pretty much what wordpress.com are offering via their IM bot.
FriendFeed is a decent social lifestreaming and messaging platform. There’s an iPhone interface, a FaceBook app; it allows for a little more engagement than Twitter with the ability to ‘like’ content and comment extensively (with no 140 character limit). I can see it being quite useful to aggregate and discuss course work. You can have private groups, too.
I’ve been trying to ‘hack’ ((I use the term ‘hack’ loosely. ‘Botch’ might be a better way of describing my approach to code.)) the plugin to also work for comments, but it’s beyond me. I’ve submitted an issue to the plugin’s Google Code site and, if it’s possible, maybe it will be possible in a future version.
Storytlr is a relatively new ‘lifestreaming’ service that allows you to aggregate your activity on a growing number of social networking sites (and other sites that provide RSS feeds) into one single stream that can then be manipulated to create visual narratives within a given time period. There are other lifestreaming and aggregation services. FriendFeed is one. I use the WordPress Lifestream plugin on another blog, too.
There are several things I especially like about Storytlr that are worth highlighting here:
Manipulate the stream: You can edit the title, text content, date and time of each item in the stream, make items private or the entire stream private.
Visual Narratives: Create ‘stories’ from isolated feeds within a certain time frame. For example, I might go to a conference and use this blog to report back to my colleagues. However, using Storytlr, I might include Twitter, Flickr and YouTube posts to create a narrative over two or three days. However, I’m probably also using Twitter to keep in touch with other conference participants; things like what time to meet up for a beer or to ask where a presentation is when I have forgotten the room number. Stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily want to include in my report of the conference. Storytlr will allow me to create this conference report selecting specific items from the Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and blog feeds. You can see how this could also be used by students (or staff) who want to tell the story of a project they are working on, or a field trip they’re away on. Several people could share and post to the same account.
Some feeds are pulled in realtime: Storytlr uses GNIP to import updates from Twitter, Digg, Delicious and Seesmic in realtime. Increasingly, there’s an expectation that our online activity will show in realtime. RSS/Pull is being replaced by XMPP/Push architectures such as GNIP. No more waiting for RSS feeds to refresh! Watch for news sites like the BBC to start offering realtime news updates using GNIP or similar.
Backup to plain text: You can backup/download each of your feeds in their entirety at any time as CSV files.
Custom CSS and domain names: It’s your story so why not host it under your domain name in a theme that you have designed?
You can share stories on external sites: Once you’ve created a story or aggregated your lifestream, you can then embed it on other sites using Storytlr widgets.
Edit, archive, search and republish your lifestream: I use Delicious and Google Reader’s Shared Items to bookmark web pages that I want to share or, more often, bookmark to read at a later date. Storytlr provides a way to aggregate these items, archive them by month and search through them. Nice.
Support for Laconica microblogging sites: They support my personal installation of Laconica. It’s the first time I’ve seen this. Support for Identica is growing but it’s nice to see support for other Laconica installations. It’s a distributed microblogging application after all!
Forthcoming: It’s early days. They have plans for lots of other features, which users can vote for. Their blog is worth reading, too.
A few issues
Login is not secure: There’s no https or lock icon in my browser when I log in and there’s only two of us voting for this feature to be implemented!