The Dumb Hive Mind

Dave Rogers points to Jarod Lanier, who has better ideas than me regarding the tendancy of the web to ignore individuals. He writes:

The illusion that what we already have is close to good enough, or that it is alive and will fix itself, is the most dangerous illusion of all. By avoiding that nonsense, it ought to be possible to find a humanistic and practical way to maximize value of the collective on the Web without turning ourselves into idiots. The best guiding principle is to always cherish individuals first.

That’s exactly the illusion I’ve been working under on the web for the past decade. I thought if I just threw good ideas into the web long enough, it would improve itself. It wears me out. "Always cherish individuals first" sounds like pretty good advice. I think I haven’t been doing enough of that because I don’t trust individuals very much. Individuals can be mean. The collective, at worst, is just careless. And therein lies the appeal of the illusion: it’s relatively safe.

But I’ve had enough with the relative safety of the idiot hive mind. It’s time for me to get back to mess and the riskiness of smart individuals. So … anyone want to start a website with me? I have a lot of good ideas.

 
 
 
A website doing what?
 
 
 
 
I have plenty of ideas I'd like to explore, but looking at your site, here's one you might be interested in: Take your list of friends, pull contact data from each of their websites, and create an online address book that automatically updates itself as your friends update their websites. The auto-updating address book would be useful enough, I think, but it could also collect additional information like how often your friends update their blogs, what sorts of language patterns they use in their writing, aggregation of their photos, music, etc. It could be just like every other social networking site, only decentralized using the data we already have on our own websites.
 
 
 
 
Believe it or not, this is exactly one of the ideas that many of use early in the microformats community had and discussed with regards to using XFN and hCard. I think it is a great idea and can't wait for someone to make a nice service so we can use it!
 
 
 
 
Yeah, I saw it mentioned as an idea for a desktop app on the microformats list. I'm still waiting for someone to make it.
 
 
 
 
fastblogit.com could use a lot of help. BTW, your comments on Aaron's blog were spot on! I'm not quite so pessamistic, i think we can arrive at a better way.
 
 
 
 
I think we can arrive at a better way too, Seth. I just think it'll take more effort than wikis. I'll look at fastblogit.com.
 

Be number 7:

 
 
 
knows half of 8 is