Today’s insight is a good one, I find. Let me repeat that: The Collective Web is what it’s all about! I am sure somebody has talked about the collective web before, but I haven’t searched thoroughly for whom. The collective web category will be used for gotzeblogs on stuff like P2P, syndication, collaborative web services, community networks, online communities of practice, and the like. I start with some general observations.
When talking about The Collective Web I refer to a wide spectrum of developments and trends, as you see. Politically, they cover the whole scale from left to right, although collectiveness has a tradition of belonging to the left, since the right’s anti-communitariasm has confused their whole notion of sociality and togetherness.
OK, so I say “they” about the “right”, or whatever that end of the scale is called. It would follow then that I consider myself located somewhere else on the scale. Well, you got me – I’m leftish, if you really want to know. I will leave it some other occasion to go into my relationship to socialism and marxism, however. Let’s for now leave at saying that I am not a party member of any party …
What is this collectiveness about, and what is a collective web?
One attempt at answering this is given by arsdigita. What is these guys up to? Many-2-Many: New Solutions in Collaborative Commerce, they write. Collaborative Commerce? Hmmm. Based on my readings of arsdigita, I get the idea that they want more than an open-sourced letsbuyit.com:
The Power of Purposeful Communities: “Capturing the Web’s real economic and social value of depends on more than facilitating “one-to-one” transactions; instead, successful e-commerce must enable “many-to-many” communication.”
It is Metcalfe’s law in action: “network effects”, the more members per site, the exponentially greater the site’s benefits and utilities.
Arsdigita have determined five critical capabilities necessary to creating a working, purposeful online community. Your site will need:
Personalization. Imagine you own and run a click-and-mortar men’s clothing company. You specialize in custom-tailored and “bespoke” pants. Whenever a customer returns to your site, he’s always greeted by name. That’s great. But what if he could access his personalized, virtual “armoire,” containing every pair of pants he’s ever purchased with you? And what if he could reorder easily, modifying the measurements of his old favorites if necessary?
Collaboration. You’ve hooked up your Web site to intranets.com. But did you know your site users can collaboratively extend intranets.com’s collected information? At photo.net, photo-database users can specify custom fields for cataloguing their work — and they can choose to make these custom fields public, or not. Think of the value of knowing user-specified dimensions, instead of having to guess at them yourself!
Transactions. Don’t just sell to your customers. Allow them to sell to one another, and perhaps allow third parties to sell to them as well.
Publishing. This includes not only your own content, but also aggregated content; i.e., materials (legally) gathered from other sites and recombined on your site into value-added content and services.
Management. Users need to access the information they want. Web masters need tools to create this access: e.g., “knowledge management systems”, “search engines”, and “eCRM”.
This is some interesting ideas, which must be useful when building e-commerce sites. Collective shopping is here to stay, although it seems that even this is in crisis.
But I am not interested in shopping. I want The Collective Web to be much more. I regard it from a perhaps more ideological perspective.