Cory Doctorow (disclosure: Cory is an advisor to my company) has a fantasticessay in Forbes called “Giving it Away,” about his experiences releasing his books for free on the Web. While Cory points out that his genre, science fiction, may have helped match the approach with a natural audience, I think it would be a huge mistake for any publisher to dismiss his ideas as only applicable to that audience. He’s talking about the future of publishing and I think he nails it. Highly recommended.
Clive Thompson’s NY Times Magazine piece this morning, “Open-Source Spying,” is well worth a read. He refers to Web 2.0 and uses the phrase “Spying 2.0” to talk about new approaches to intelligence gathering and analysis, learning from the Internet approaches we talk about on Radar all the time (Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.). The use of “Open Source” in the title (adopting the phrase from earlier writing on the same topic) is annoying; a “source” to the CIA is much different than the “source” in open source. “Harnessing collective intelligence” is exactly what they’re talking about, though. I was surprised to find no reference to tags in the article, since that seems like exactly the solution to the problem statements the article poses. The notional solutions they discuss are all around search technology, and I get why that’s important, but I think a discussion of tagging would have led in different, and better directions. Update: several people have already asked me what I meant by this and how tagging applies. In the case of Flickr, tags allow people to describe an opaque object (a photograph) that we don’t have good tools for searching textually otherwise. In the case of intelligence gathering, the object being searched is opaque for other reasons, usually clearance reasons — to protect a source, for instance. My point was that a tag could be used to describe the opaque object here, too, and that people could subscribe to particular tags of interest. Where permissions (clearances) are unclear or blocked, tag activity analysis (coincident tag usage, tags appearing across widely separated sources, and so on) might expose areas where information sharing should be allowed to occur.
Your Credit Advisor posts a list of the Top 25 Web 2.0 Apps for Money, Finance, and Investment. I’m happy that the author named Wesabe (my company) as “most robust of the ‘personal finance management’ tools,” but I’m also just interested in how much this area has grown in the last few weeks. It’s always interesting to me as an entrepreneur to see a bunch of long-term, near-simultaneous private conversations come out into the public en masse. I always used to read stories of scientists reaching similar outcomes on opposite sides of the globe and would think, hmm, how did that happen? But I’ve seen this enough times now to understand that — in some cases, at least — there are small bits of public discussions that get disparate people thinking the same way.