Setting the stage

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Clay Shirky took what is basically an informal, distributed, totally loose system we’re all calling LazyWeb (because, well, we tend to like catchy terms), and formalizing the hell out of it.

He writes at O’Reilly:


However, the coordination costs of the LazyWeb as a whole are very high, and they will grow as more people try it. More people can describe features than write software, just as more people can characterize bugs than fix them. Unlike debugging, however, a LazyWeb description does not necessarily have a target application or a target group of developers. This creates significant interface problems, since maximal LazyWeb awareness would have every developer reading every description, an obvious impossibility. (Shades of Brook’s Law.)

I think the concept of LazyWeb is good, but formalizing and even centralizing it is just following the same old patterns established back when Tim Berners-Lee was a pup trying to figure out how to impress his college professors.

The LazyWeb works within weblogging not because it’s promoted by a few elite technologists, or centralized to one feed; but because we have the ability to disseminate requests and solutions at an incredible pace. This is true distributed, peer-to-peer technology and social structure in action.

We use a combination of links and popularity (Daypop), sticky strand technology (comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks), and even syndication (RSS) to connect idea creators and idea suppliers.

Ben’s idea of posting a LazyWeb request to his weblog is what works — putting a procedure into place and giving it a position within social strategies, doesn’t.

(P.S. Too bad O’Reilly doesn’t implement Trackback, so we could let Clay know we’re talking about him, and what we have to say.)

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