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Nope -biip-, I'm not a bot -biip :-)

wwwizard of oz ~ the silenz of the l@mbs
"What if fravia was a bot? Information changes it's shape: persons hide behind groups, groups hide behind information these groups provide."
by e=h, October 2000


[vc] PART ONE: wwwizard of oz

Once I intended to write an essay with the title: What if fravia was a bot? Well, the idea behind this rather amusing question is that sometimes sitting in front of the searchlore page i feel like participating in a turing-test. This may sound strange, i know, but i guess the roots lie in the "humanised" read "merchandised" web. When you find a site, that has information without the label "for free" or "enter your e-mail-adress", without ten-thousand flash-animations or banners you feel entering a non-human world, i.e. a world that doesn't pay attention to "looks", to the way information is displayed ("displayed", NOT "structured"!). But at the same time (maybe through the wizard-of-oz-technique?) this web "feels" human. Now how does he do that?

It was funny, thinking that fravia might be a bot. For me it was very easy, because we never met, I have never seen a picture of him. Or maybe I did, but it had another name written under it. But now he published the Milan papers - he published, therefore he is. My turing-thesis proved wrong. ;-)

Flash to another topic, (i'm coming back on this): the web has a physical layer (i count here all technical aspects) and an ideological layer (beyond every information there is an "ideology" resp. an intention). Rather interesting, "matter" and "mind" mingle together and this makes searching so difficult: you cannot keep them apart (a certain community may communicate over http or over nntp, but even if it is the "same" community, for a searcher there is a difference of technique). So in order to understand it's structure you need two coordinates, ie. what i called in this case "matter" and "mind". The third was shown here http://www.searchlores.org/milano/growth1.jpg but the emphasize lies on the vector: you "see" statistically that the web grows, you "think" it will continue like this. Searching has much to do with this "thinking", with this future-aspect of the web. Where will information be, rather then where has information been up to now?

Now this question is not as theoretical as we might think. The web migrates, and it NOT a technological migration (bandwith etc). And here i come to speak again about fravia the robot :-). I asked myself why I felt attached to this website searchlores, and some of the answers i found lie in the keywords 1. feedback, 2. anonymity and on the third place information. For feedback I guess many of us have felt the same way: looking on monday if fravia has updated the news-page. and if he didn't (or they didn't) I asked myself: now why is THAT??? :-)
Then 2.: i didn't need to give any information about me (this is the quid pro quo of hannibal lecter: what i give is what i get, in this case: anonymity). This may seem of no great importance (because nobody gives the real name in paysites anyway, duh!), but asking for a NAME a hierarchical structure is established: while in paysites (i mean not only sites, where you "pay" to receive information, but also where you "pay" time to get it - bec. of banners etc.), so, while in paysites all the structure of "power" lies somewhere in the olympus, from where we mortals are directed towards communication - certainly the communication THEY, the unseen GODS want - in an anonymous site you don't feel this gap. Hm. A rather prometheian view.

This is the direction towards migration is intended. I don't know if you read the future of the web totally in the big programming books or if you find it in the slim marketing handbook designed with word2000-cliparts. I fear for the second. And the problem is, everything that happens is very natural. Humane. The name is "virtual communities".

People need communication. I was taught (during my literature-study) the example with the proto-language: people wanted to see what language children start talking, if they are NOT taught any language - is it the biblic hebrew, is it latin, is it greek? (greek, not GEEK!!! :-) well, the children died, and so we learned that people cannot live without communication. Well. Anyway, we, the mortals, need communication, so we get some framework to communication. And thus we have everything: from chat to webrings, from muds to the virtual community of the scubadivinggolfplaying pokemon-fans (Note: if you use these keywords in altavista, you even get some pages! among them, the girlsite studdybuddy. but pleeeease, dont search for it unless you want it on the portalpage of all searchengines :-).

Ok, there's lot of irony in here. The problem is, that it is very natural to exchange information, so it's being taken into the marketing program. it is natural to build knowledge-clusters, so this is used in order to make some business. How do you structure this business?

It goes like this:

[END OF PART ONE :-)]
[PART TWO]

[vc]: PART TWO: the silenz of the l@mbs

It goes like this:

You get money if you give something in exchange. This "something" is power (and since knowledge is power ... you can give information, too). It is also the power to be in a group (milleniumgroup), it is the power to know more things than others, or, for instance,to know where to buy things cheaper. It is also the power to know where you don't have to pay with time for the things you get.
now let's say you create a virtual community: you need users. you get users by giving away this "power". you get more users. this users start giving too. you create topics, sub-topics, sub-sub-topics, active lists, passive lists (people may participate in information-exchange without interfering, unless they are not "members"). you start to promote interaction between members. this creats more information, more topics, this makes also loyality. at the same time, you gather information about the public, and you use it on the public again: how to get more members of the community, how to publish more information etc. So let's say Harry and Mary will stick to this community because in another community there is no Harry and Mary, i.e. Harry and Mary won't have the same functions. There, they won't be seen as members. So they stay loyal (Hagakure!) At the same time, you get also some general information if you like: a specialised community is a club, and is not very attractive to zombies. It's obvious why.

I won't give more rules about how to get more users. They write books about it. But 2 things are interesting:

1. this process is, as i said, very "natural". I can describe this by an example: a tree grows, get branches, get leaves, get fruits etc. This is nature. But when I plant a tree, and plant a marketing-expert near it, and give him the function to tell the tree: now get branches, now get leaves, cause it is a very good market-constellation, now is the moment to give some fruits for the public, this is for me an artificial growth. The growth of the web is partly natural, partly artificial. It is very difficult to define each, and to separate them.

2. but this is not our problem, and this is the second interesting thing. In order to define our position in a changing web we need some coordinates. Again we have the physical structure evolving, and we have the ideological structure changing. To get to the information, we must know "how", but also "where", and this is the "mind"-part. Let me quote from a marketing book that deals with virtual communities (it's an american book, but i have the text only in german, so i won't it translate mot--mot): "the first fans of online-networks (esp. the internet) were against the commercial use of the net, and some of them do it even this day [no comment]. But virtual communities and commercial applications don't exclude each other. The virtual community builds the unique framework for business, because like this users exchange in a better way information. The result is a reverse / inverse market [reverse is a too nice word for that], where the customer has the businesspower." etc etc.
It's an example of words that say one thing and mean another. a free network gives information, and thus gives power, thats true; but businesspower ist only a part of power, but this argumentation doesn't doesn't take this into account: build a [vc] as a framework, get users, multiply them, let them be little businessmen.

I think information is not a "businessproduct". You get information
1. when you earn it 2. when you're ready for it. You don't hold it just
1. for the sake of it 2. for business purposes.

To resume: as a prediction, information will be found as "clustered knowledge" or as "herded information". The shepherd will take care of the little white innocent info-sheeps. That means that the woolfie aka searcher will start to change strategies. Information changes it's shape: persons hide behind groups, groups hide behind information these groups provide. The problem is not if this is good or bad: it is. More then ever this means to search for the lost sheeps that doesn't fit in the herd: lost links, outside linkers, anonymous information, anything that is beyond the most common thing the web brings: entertainment.

e=h


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