Social Media Weblogging

Define Noise

This is a test as well as a story. Scoble is very excited about a new service, Memeorandum, that ‘floats’ most linked stories to the top in two specific categories: technology and politics/current affairs. Contrary to some others who have been critical of the UI, I found it clean and relatively simple to comprehend.

I would tend to think of the service as something similar to Daytop 40 or Blogdex, but highlighted by topic and with a few more goodies, such as links to the other search services. Cool enough, except that Robert mentioned a couple of things in his post that got my attention:

… he doesn’t look at all of the blogs in the world (unless you hit preferences and start using the blog search services he’s linked in). Huh? How cool can that be if it doesn’t include your Uncle Joe who wrote code one time back in college?

It’s very cool, because it has very low noise. In fact, I’ve been visiting this 10 to 50 times a day for the last few months and I’ve never seen something that I would call noise or spam.

Define ‘noise’, Robert? Anyone that doesn’t rank? This does lead to an interesting new definition for the semantic web: a web of means, rather than a web of meaning.

According to Gabe, the site developer and architect, the goals are memeorandum are:

1. Recognize the web as editor: There’s this notion that blogs collectively function as news editor. No, not every last blog on Earth. Tapping the thoughts of all of humanity uniformly would predictably lead to trivial, even spammy “news”. But today there are rather large communities of knowledgeable, sophisticated commentators, (and yes) even reporters writing on the web, signaling in real time what’s worthy of wider discussion. I want memeorandum to tap this signal.

2. Rapidly uncover new sources: Sometimes breaking news is posted to a blog created just to relate that news. Sometimes the author of the most insightful analysis piece at 2PM was a relative unknown at 1PM. It happens. I want memeorandum to highlight such work, without delay.

3. Relate the conversation: Communication on the web naturally tends toward conversation. It follows from human nature plus the Internet’s immediacy. Blog posts react to news articles, essays reference editorials. And links abound. Yet most news sites do very little to relate the form of conversations unfolding in real time. Some seem to deny that a conversation is even occurring. I want memeorandum to be a clear exception.

This confirms that only certain weblogs are canvassed for links. In Robert’s post, I asked Gabe to provide a listing of the weblogs he canvasses for both politics and technology.

We’ll see if this shows up in the service. If not, either I don’t rank, or if I do, I don’t rank as a technology blog. Stay tuned…

I did show up, quite quickly. I feel all red carpety and gold starred. I also showed up, as quickly though, in the IceRocket list for Scoble’s link. Another question I had for Gabe was if he originally pulls lead stories from the canvassed weblogs, and then uses the search engines to pull additional links as they come available.

I also wonder if his bot is the one that signs itself “Mmm…. Brains….”

Events of note People Political Weather

Bye Brown

As expected Michael Brown has resigned as head of FEMA. However, though a move in the right direction, it’s not enough. As the article mentions, the government needs to move FEMA back out into a department of its own, and, contrary to some who may believe otherwise, return it to dealing with natural disasters rather than this obsession with terrorists:

“When you have orders that go down the rung, people interpret them by putting a very tight box around them,” said Bob Freitag, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Hazard Mitigation Planning and Research.

Freitag said the reorganization in Homeland Security had a trickle-down effect in state emergency management as well. For example, emergency management officials from Washington, a state where earthquakes are the likeliest threat, will be devoting their entire annual meeting next week to terrorism instead, he said.

“The locals need more money and we have to get it from grants, and the money that’s available is for terrorism,” said Freitag, who worked at FEMA for about 25 years. “It’s not driven by national hazards. That leadership is not there.”

The Department of Homeland Security has enough resources to deal with terrorists. Life must go on, yellow alert or not.

Replacing Brown is David Paulison currently U.S. Fire Director. I didn’t know we had a U.S. Fire Director. Regardless, this is a man who headed up the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, as well as overseeing the county’s emergency services. He also attended the Kennedy School of Management at Harvard, but we won’t hold that against him. He is qualified, and with his Florida background, particularly so when it comes to hurricane management.

I have to ask: why was this man reporting to Brown? He is so much more qualified, it’s almost painful to see.

One incidental impact of Katrina and the government mismanagement: states potentially impacted by an earthquake in the New Madrid fault are now taking it a lot more seriously.

Social Media

Change begins closer to home

I did want to point out that there has been a good number of really great comments attached to the Change Starts at Home post. In particular, if you’re interested in social software, inequality within weblogging, and so on, you might want to take a look.

Seth pointed out the Symposium on Social Architecture ‘do’ at Harvard come November. Before you click the link, write down all the people you think were invited to speak. If who you expected to see is who you’re seeing, then the promise of social software has not been met and it is, in effect, a failure.

Another side topic that came up in the comment thread was the impact that meeting people and becoming personal friends has on ‘open’ discourse, in an environment made up of people who have met each other, integrated in tightly with those who have not; with how we react when ‘friends’ are referenced, as compared to those we feel more objective about. This also appeared in the comment thread of a post by David Weinberger.

Either one enters an online discussion to debate the merits of whatever topic is the focus, or we enter a conversation to defend or support a friend. When we mix the two, we put those who have not met others, personally, at a disadvantage. This, also, becomes a failure in social software.