Listened to Joshua Schachter answer questions at Berkman last night. He seemed to be at the end of a very long day. Many of the usual questions were asked and the usual answers were given.
Things I learned. You can now type delicious.com, rather than del.icio.us. But does that mean we can stop typing del.icio.us every time we talk about it? That “bacon” is a very delightful word for ambiguous search. Maybe we could introduce the term bacon for output of bad actors who’s spamming is more sophisticated than just spraying mass quantities at open systems.
I was a bit surprised by what appears to be the lack of any platform strategy; and of course I find that extremely lame. (And no, an API does not constitute a platform strategy!) People in the audience read lots of value propositions into his business. He seems very centered in the value of delicious as a means to help people capture the memorable.
I’ve long thought that delicious would be a fascinating opportunity to introduce some light weight group forming as a means to raising the bar on the quality of the tagging. But while they are intending to play the group card into the design space it appears that they don’t see that as a means toward raising quality, or even as an enabler of additional sociability. They have seen a demand for it, as they have seen a demand for privacy so they are chasing that demand.
In passing he mentioned how they would like to be able to enable some degree of account linking so sites could link up account info enough to help a user manage his things to remember stuff.
Two thinks linked up. He was working as a quant with a brokerage before. He’s curious about the possibility of finding trend spotters in his user base. Stock trading is all about buying before the crowd arrives and selling back when they do. Which is, of course, also somewhat the business that Ester Dyson and Tim O’Reilly are in. Two of his investors. I wonder if that’s a of a NYC mindset about things rather than a valley mindset? Of course crowds and social have some overlap; but they are quite differing attitudes about the group. Probably three things there: modeling the crowd’s behavior, shaping the crowd’s behavior, and encouraging the forming of crowds.
I’m a big believer that a web site that built in this manner, i.e. draw upon the lite contributions of a large pool of talent, is better off if its operators are conscious of what qualities they are attempting to aggregate. So for example my story about how everything2 went off in a particular direction by it’s emphasis on cool; or how wikipedia is has a heading set by the emphasis on neutral point of view, or how each of the open source enclaves has particular attributes they use to ground their work.
Most sites like these don’t manage this well. That comes, possibly, of a modern fetish for dismissing the value of planning with such vigor that any plan becomes suspect. They tend to settle into some attribute that then rises toward the top for reasons that have to do with the dynamics in and around the operators. Wikipedia is a good example because neutral point of view addresses an organizational and coordination problem; but is only slightly correlated with other qualities you might want in a reference work. It is an evolutionary approach; and tends to create curious mutations that happen to work rather than designed things.
That delicious is trying to be a good place for its users to remember stuff is pretty clearly an attribute that was written into it’s DNA early and still gets a lot of respect.
It looks like trend spotting, or some analogous term, is in its blood.
Memory aid for the trend spotting crowd, Makes for an interesting target audience. Interesting to contrast it with other attempts to serve that fickle mob. A developer net, a political activist, or an advertiser would be trying to shape and draw the crowds interests.