You Should Be Able to Browse the Web Through Your Own Website

Making a quicker pass at the reply to Dave Winer below, I want to call out one radical idea that people don’t get: You should be able to browse the web through your own website.

As an example of this, consider my Wikity interface when I’m logged in (if you’re not logged in the interface will be missing the edit box):

wikityid

I use Wikity as a combination social-bookmarking tool and wiki. And I’ve got my site set  up in a way that’s efficient for me — I have a Markdown based editor at the top, and then around it I have little Pinterest-like excerpts of my posts. When I want to write something new, or when I read something I want to summarize I usually execute a search to remind me of what I’ve written on it before and then plug stuff into the Markdown box. I scan over these search results and link to them or quote from them as I write.

If I want to alter older posts to link to this, I can quick-edit them on the spot to cross link my new stuff.

I haven’t quite got this part working yet, but the idea is a multi-document editing environment that mimics some of the affordances of federated wiki. Here’s a screenshot of writing an article while updating two other articles to link to the new information (note scroll bars of pages where editing is going on).

multi-editing

But the thing is it’s really lonely in here — the only things I’m working with are the ones I’ve created.

And what I learned from federated wiki is doesn’t have to be like that. If I had a common data format and a set of protocols, I could pull all the articles from my friends into this space, and I could fork them in and work on them, link to them, etc.

In the web as it is, we move, and the data stays put. In a federated web, the data moves and we stay put. Does that make sense?

To me at least, that’s the core dream of federated wiki. But what’s interesting is it’s also the dream of Dave Winer to reboot the blogosphere.

You can do some of the above with feeds, of course. But for something like the search-my-network-and-write habits I’ve developed you really need API calls, and if you are going to port things like categories and data and media that are going to be processed by the UI you might as well put it in JSON.

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “You Should Be Able to Browse the Web Through Your Own Website

  1. Hi Mike

    Because I understand less than one tenth of a gram of the technical side, I focus on the use-case. I find myself thinking about wikity in terms of the things I can do with this sketch/swatch approach that I can’t already do. Inevitably as an educator I’m mostly thinking: what exactly would I do in a class with this? And then as a researcher: what exactly would I get from having access to other people’s collections of things without creating a whole shadow internet in post-it form.

    So part of the question for me at the moment is: why did Pinterest work, and for whom?

    This has got me thinking about how much of our traditional pedagogic models are focused on learning how to make content, and fetishise originality to the point that sharing and cheating become near-coterminous. A pedagogy for curation would look very different to this.

    • Kate — this is exactly right. Viewing your stuff through YOUR website and someone else’s stuff through THEIR website loses the entire point that this is a conversation that neither one of us owns, comprised of bits of others as well.

      Pinterest does a very good job at breaking these sorts of distinctions down. What I produce is less important than what I know and share, and ultimately that sharing benefits producers as well as their ideas get wider impact. (That said there are some issues with the way Pinterest makes it harder to find sources, there are issues with who makes money, but I will tell you that Nicole, my art teacher wife, could not survive without Pinterest as a safety net — it has absolutely revolutionized her practice).

  2. mike said:
    > But for something like the
    > search-my-network-and-write
    > habits I’ve developed
    > you really need API calls,
    > and if you are going to port things
    > like categories and data and media
    > that are going to be processed by the UI
    > you might as well put it in JSON.

    i’m building something similar.

    but frankly, my system doesn’t need an api,
    because it stores files as plain-text at a u.r.l.

    and it doesn’t need json, because the files
    use light-markup to reveal their structure.

    api and json are complications by developers.
    and i’m not going to mess with all of that stuff.

    my system is simple, built for regular humans.

    here’s one example of a file:
    > http://zenmagiclove.com/simple/march-forth-manifesto.zml

    it’s also stored with a .txt extension, in case you
    have cross-domain troubles pulling the .zml file.

    -bowerbird

    bowerbird@aol.com
    https://twitter.com/bbirdiman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s