Small Programs Loosely Joined

Ted Nelson on what he’d like to create in the future.

I want to create, however, a new breed, a new kind of computer system that is much simpler that allows kids to programme once again.

If I’m perceiving what he’s saying correctly here, I have a funny feeling he’s not talking about kids programming "computer programs" that exist just on a computer. I believe he’s talk about small programs that can exist anywhere, on the computer or on the Web. Even more so I think these programs will intentionally be small and simple to create because they’ll focus on a specific purpose. What will make them so powerful though will be that they will be able to interconnect and interoperate with one another like laying down two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and snapping them together. They’ll also be freely available for anyone to use because where the power of these "small" programs will come into play is when you have many of them all interconnected together and working in tandem. In effect, you achieve the idea behind David Weinberger’s book entitled Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

Pioneering The Future

Dave Winer writes the following about Ted Nelson.

The reporter said that Nelson was really weird and kind of rude. I took exception to this. Nelson is a visionary, and a teacher, in many ways it’s his passion that’s the fabric of the web.

Later, I thought, how strange, we want visionaries, we need them, but we want them to fit some impossible concept of humanity. Someone should have passion without being too passionate. I wonder if people have really thought this through. I’m willing to cut a guy like Nelson almost infinite slack, because I so totally appreciate what he has done for us, and for me.

Of course he seemed somewhat rude because he’s probably frustrated like any visionary or pioneer. They are blazing trails that we can’t even see or understand yet. They try to explain them to us but we look at them like they’re on another planet. They aren’t though. They’re right here with you and me but they are looking through eyes that perceive things differently because they’ve made that leap in thinking whereas we haven’t. Once we’ve been repeatedly bashed in the head enough times with their message though, it finally sinks in and the light finally turns on. At that point, we’ve made the paradigm shift as well.

Oh and yes pioneers probably seem “weird”. They are living on the edge of what is known and pushing into the unknown. But as usual, the edge is where you usually find the best stuff.

Collective Sustainability

Dave Winer in his post entitled The Internet as "idea processor".

You need a village to raise a child, and you need an Internet to fully develop an idea.

This is a great comparison and as soon I saw it, it reminded me of something else. Imagine a bunch of families all spread out along a valley, all working on their own to build their homes and raise crops to help them survive and sustain themselves. Yet with each season they realize that it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain themselves. Then one day a few families bump into each by the river and start talking. They realize that if they work together instead of each working alone, they’ll be able to sustain themselves as a group much more efficiently. So they gather together and create a village by the river. Over time, with each family now focused on helping the community as a whole instead of just themselves, the entire group of people prosper and sustainability is easily achieved.

Now can you see how this idea or approach can be carried over to the Web as well?

Using Spaces To Categorize Content

In the comments area of an entry by David Weinberger entitled How do you sort your books?, it’s interesting to note that people don’t just categorize their books on their book shelves but they categorize them by the rooms they are in as well. Again this relates to the concept I mentioned before about using different areas or spaces of your site to auto-categorize your content. And actually blogging platforms that allow you to add content via the front-end of the site (like Squarespace) are perfect for this type of auto-categorization system (if the system is programmed this way) because all you need to do is view (or enter) the section of the site where you want to add the new content and the act of doing that automatically categorizes any content you add to it.

For example, if you click on one of your categories in your journal, you’ll see a filtered listing of entries related to that category. Therefore in that view, if you click to add a new entry, the system could auto-tag your new content with the exact same category filter since you want it placed in that same area or space.

Getting Noticed By Interacting With Others

I really dislike when I hear how "blogs get you noticed". Uh, no they don’t. You get yourself noticed.

What I mean is that if you setup a blog and start publishing stuff on it, it isn’t going to get you noticed unless you do something else. Why? Because you have to make people aware of it first and thus build up a readership or community around it. If no one knows it exists though then how can it get you noticed?

Now here’s my point. The only way to get yourself noticed is to get out there and mingle with people (just like you do in real life). In effect, you are your own best advertisement for your site. Your words on other sites (participating in conversations) is what gets you noticed (as usually people will find it interesting and want to read more). Your content on your site though is what makes these people stick around.

Therefore, if you never step foot "outside" of your home, instead spending time just "talking to yourself", don’t expect to "get noticed".

Update: Actually I just want to emphasize something here. I honestly believe that a person can get noticed without having his own blog. If that person is a part of a community on another blog and comments there frequently, he’ll get noticed there just as much. In other words, it’s not so much the act of having your own blog that gets you noticed but instead committing to a relationship or community where people can get to know you.