On the Internet, the past isn’t that old.
I’m a big fan of TechMeme, a web aggregation service that provides, at a glance, a few of what’s being discussed in the technology-focused part of the blogosphere. It has allowed me to unsubscribe from a large number of RSS feeds that were providing me with redundant information and I’ve long hoped for a version of TechMeme that would provide me with a customized view that providing a similar user interface for my own personal feeds. Recently, though, TechMeme has gotten me thinking about the tech blogosphere conversations as a whole and their longer term relevance. To the small “web 2.0” community, TechMeme serves as a bit of a paper of record; The subhead even claims that it represents the “Tech Web, page A1”, claiming to bring us the important stories. But how do those stories fare over time? Is today’s hot topic a step in understanding a longer term trend or is it just a temporary distraction that will be forgotten a month/3 months/6 months/a year from now. Fortunately, Gabe Rivera, the founder of TechMeme must have anticipated such a question and provided a way to look at TechMeme as it was a particular point in its short history.…Read More
Looking at the efforts Dave Winer is undertaking in terms of getting OPML to become yet another standard, I’ve been thinking about how formats get adopted. The key insight I came up with is that standards are actually a form of social contract and increasingly, data formats is following the same path. Looking at the history In order to look forward, it always pays to look back. The dominant standards for the web today are undeniably HTML (or its variances like XHTML) and HTTP. More recently, XML has emerged and, increasingly, RSS is becoming the dominant type of XML for sharing a variety of data. How did each of those standards become a standard. It is obvious now (hindsight is always 20/20) that standards bodies have relatively little bearing when it comes to influencing the succes of a format. Take, for example, SGML, which was the dominant standardized format for document formatting. It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard. The same is true of RSS and other standards for syndication. Formats like ICE, CDF, and NewsML were touted as the future when they were first introduced. However, they’ve recently been superceded by…Read More
Finally, investors are starting to realize that not everything is dotcom land is rotten and are starting to compare dotcom businesses to more traditional ones. If you consider the old axiom that only one in five business start-ups succeed, you may come to realize that the 90s were not necessarily as bad as some have made them to be. There was a tremendous increase in the number of new businesses created and, as a result, it was only normal for most of them to fail. Maybe people will not start to reassess that period in business history and realize that it was not really that different from any others, apart from the fact that so many new companies were created as a result of the new opportunities that cropped up thanks to technology advancements.Read More
“For sale, Internet historical documents and legal trouble. Call Deja.com for details.” This is not exactly the way Deja.com presented themselves but ultimately, this may be what transpires from their recent attempt to put the Usenet archives on sale. Usenet History For those of you who have never heard of Usenet, here’s a quick definition from the Usenet FAQ: Usenet is a world-wide distributed discussion system. It consists of a set of “newsgroups” with names that are classified hierarchically by subject. “Articles” or “messages” are “posted” to these newsgroups by people on computers with the appropriate software — these articles are then broadcast to other interconnected computer systems via a wide variety of networks.Some newsgroups are “moderated”; in these newsgroups, the articles are first sent to a moderator for approval before appearing in the newsgroup. Usenet is available on a wide variety of computer systems and networks, but the bulk of modern Usenet traffic is transported over either the Internet or UUCP. To put it simply, prior to the web, Usenet was what defined the Internet as a community. It covers subjects ranging from politics to computing, arts to news, and everything in between. Usenet, to the old timers was…Read More