How big is the opportunity for anthropologists to investigate people and place on the digital commons? Via Stowe Boyd's online writers "best of" list, I found purse lip square jaw, a blog by Anne Galloway. She is focused on the social and cultural dimensions of mobility and pervasive technologies, a synonym for enormous business opportunity for someone with a good mind and a little ambition.
Related, Stowe points to a debate about the real significance of web developments. On one hand some say that the web is, or should be, about finding something singular coursing through all those interactions - blog posts, instant messages and the like. They would agree with this sentiment from Tim O'Reilly's oft-referenced description of Web 2.0:
The central principle behind the success of the giants born in the Web 1.0 era who have survived to lead the Web 2.0 era appears to be this, that they have embraced the power of the web to harness collective intelligence.
Others, including Stowe, say that people and millions of discreet little conversations are the most important feature of the Web, by which I think he means get a grip.
Sorry, Stowe, if I overstepped.
Linking to a July '05 posting, he describes life around the digital campfire. People gather to talk, swap a few gifts and let their food settle. Paraphrasing again, the social stuff trumps the who, what, where, when and why in the exchange. Read it if you get a chance.
All the collective intelligence talk is secret society, password required hoo-ha. And It's precisely backwards. Deducing what's being said at any point in time is for you, me and the neighbor to figure out. That's the deal. The web just puts the information in human readable format. Stowe:
People will want to live in a coffeeshop, talking to people about books, not in the stacks at the library or the warehouse at Amazon.
That I can sit here drinking coffee and write to you about ideas thrills me, really. But much as I take advantage of our hyperlinked world - I'll be doing that at the end of this post - I don't consider myself a member of a collective, helping to produce - or consume - the word of the day for April 19, 2006. Nor do I believe it can be created. I hope I'm right, because to be honest it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking that someone might really, really, really want me to understand what was said.
And if we succeed? Can I get the collective intelligence delivered? More to the point, what if I just want to be a bad boy? Can I just say no? I think I'll ask the Big Giant Head whether I can blog and be pro-consciousness too. But I'm not waiting around for an answer.