Having failed to make out like a bandit ($10m before taxes is more then you or I will see in one shot, but it’s not exactly FU money) during Web 2.0, Jason Calacanis is determined that the same thing won’t happen on the next wave.
That’s why he’s decided that Web 3.0 = Mahalo, his ‘search service’ which pays people above minimum wage to write how to’s and group search results a la About.com in 1999. About.com, of course, sold in the $400m range so you can see what Calacanis is gunning for. And Mahalo’s not a bad site, just nothing special or revolutionary.
Which brings us to web 3.0, which Calacanis says is “the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform.”
If that doesn’t make you laugh just by reading it, then you’re reading the wrong site, but for the rest of you– what he’s really trying to say is that if you add editors to the wisdom of the crowds, you’ll get web 3.0. Just like Netscape, er Propeller, right?! In all reality this definition could have applied to any of Jason’s projects, past present or future. He’s an old school media guy, not there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the cloaking of basic media tenets in garbled nonsense that’s annoying as hell. Instead of leading the way and actually explaining a thing or two to web 2.0 whippersnappers, Calacanis has a way of leading by following which is clever but ultimately meaningless.
One thing I found interesting in Robert Scoble’s recent “takedown” of Steve Ballmer’s comments of Facebook is that Robert Scoble is 42.
So, what’s the difference between Scoble and Ballmer? 9 years and about $15,000,000,000.
Hey, Scoble: Ballmer isn’t talking about Facebook’s coolness, usefulness, or anything else. He’s talking about its business future. Business, you know, making money– something you’ve not managed to do in 42 years on this earth and something Ballmer has done in spades because that’s what he knows how to do.
I’m not down on Yahoo! like a lot of other people because I use their services all the time. Mostly: Fantasy Sports (14/16 in my NFL pick ’em league last week), Flickr, Upcoming, Yahoo News!, Delicious, Yahoo email (yes, just for signing up for other sites, but still that has some value to me) and Yahoo Sports. All of these sites are pretty well coded, have great content, and are important to me. I spend a lot of time in the Yahoo Network. Yet there seems to be no real way to link the whole shebang together in any useful way. I spent 20 minutes trying to upload the same user icon to the various services and could only get it to work half the time, and even then it seemed pointless because I can’t compare stuff. Their avatars are beyond lame and image uploading craps out 2 out of every 3 times. Yahoo! has great properties, why can’t they make them easier to use as a whole? Why can’t they leverage their huge geek/art base in Flickr, their massive sports base in Sports, their enormous News base in news, etc. into something greater then the sum of those parts?
Meanwhile, all sorts of supposedly smart people work there and they go and create useless garbage like Yahoo Pipes. Why don’t they get their top nerds together and make a Yahoo! profile that actually links together all their best and coolest properties? Probably because the place really is in disarray.
For all his puffery, jargon, impossible-to-disprove ‘theories’, etc., The BubbleGeneration guy is still the only deep thinker of “web 2.0” and he has it exactly right about Facebook. Hey geeks, wake the fuck up– Facebook is trying to lock you in to their system by pretending to open it up. They’re whoring out the word ‘platform’ to mean ‘a way for us to steal ideas and own you all’. They’re playing you. Will someone else besides BubbleDude start pointing this out?
Sometimes even smart people like the Freak-o-nomics dude can badly misread what ‘media’ is. Google owns Blogger and YouTube, which makes it one of the biggest media companies in the world.
Jimbo Wales, long annoyed at the massive success without corresponding economic renumeration of Wikipedia, has figured out a way to break it forever.
While Wikipedia is an amazing online resource, and an example of what the collaborative web can do at its best, it is beset with problems. Principal among these is the war waged between three parties: Wikipedians, Spammers, and Normal People. Each group wants something different for the Wikipedia. Spammers, believing that Wikipedia can either drive traffic or influence Google results, attempt to include their links in the index of pages which can assist that mission. Wikipedians want to control their little part of the web, be it a single article or a massive collection of articles, or the entire Wikipedia. Normal people just want to find good information, and occaisionally edit the articles which they have some understanding of, perhaps even adding links.
Because of Spammers, Wikipedians rarely allow normal people to edit articles. This is a failing of the Wikipedia as Wikipedians are not normal people, they are a specialized group which does not often see the value in the normal people’s links or contributions, and because of the prevelance of Spammers, are quick to delete such contrubtions.
Now Jimbo Wales has announced a new project which is a search engine to take on Google. An admirable project, as Search in the hands of one player is a very dangerous thing. However, there is a critcal flaw in one what know right now about the project (which isn’t very much)– the ranking of pages for this new project is to come frome existing Wikipedia external links.
This will create a tremendous burden on the Wikipedians, who, if this search engine is at all successful, will have to deal with an incoming spam tsunami. Everyone under the sun, spammer or non-spammer, will attempt to get his or her site listed in the external links index. In some cases, in articles that few people care about, you might find spammer-vs-spammer wars, but in most major articles you will find an incessant battle over external links, with everyone save the top Wikipedians being treated as foes. The pressure this will create on the community is easy to imagine for anyone who’s served time in the DMOZ or any other user-generated area of the web with potential revenue implications.
If Jimbo Wales is serious about this project, he needs to not build on the backs of already beleagured Wikipedians, and create a new branch which will be administered by a new community of his invention and curation. Otherwise, the stress on Wikipedia will be far too great, and the resource will be even more diminished then it is currenrtly.