We Need to Talk – about #Twitter: Reciprocal Knowledge Engine PLUS

Some time back I wrote and then revised a piece on both my Twitter use and the power of Twitter as a machine for building knowledge through mutual or reciprocal curation – what perhaps we can designate a “reciprocal knowledge engine. ” Google just told me that it could not find the phrase, so it looks like it’s mine. Here’s the piece: http://nigelcameron.wordpress.com/future/why-twitter-matters/

I don’t really have a lot to add on that score; seems to me this medium/platform is pregnant with capacities to enable the building of cross-disciplinary, convergent knowledge, in a world defined by the data explosion of the exaclasm and the exponential need and opportunity for understanding – as a prelude, one would hope, to wisdom in decision-making in the face of global risk.

Point about Twitter, though, is that it is also many other things, and yesterday’s post discussing the proposal that our @ addresses serve as our personal universal locators is not without merit. Then again, it’s a source for every crowd one could wish, from flashmobs during demos to the nuclear flashmob that was unleashed on SOPA. And market research. And (another recent theme in this blog) C-Suite engagement with stakeholders. Of yes, and if you must, the Lady Gaga fan club and the PR people from our favorite pols. And on and on.

Which suggests: Twitter as a corporation or a brand may or may not have immortality. In general, businesses in this space are ageing fast (not good news for current valuations). A rival could pick it up, mess it up, close it down. Or, more likely, a nimbler, smarter, son-of-Twitter will emerge in 20 months’ time and we will all feel how MySpacey Twitter used to be.

But in all the social media melange, in Twitter we have lighted on something far more valuable than the other platforms, useful for particular purposes though they may be. It’s why many of the smartest people on the planet are spending serious time here every day of their lives. And (back to reciprocal knowledge) they are my research assistants. And I am one of theirs.


Facebook meets European Privacy

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Image via Wikipedia

Austrian Law Student Faces Down Facebook – NYTimes.com.

There are so many issues raised at the interface of Europe, the United States, the Facebook IPO, privacy in general, the future of the internet, the cloud, the internet of things . . . goodness, on and on it goes; the complex and fast-evolving nerve-system of 21st century knowledge engines as they interconnect people and institutions and ideas and the rest of the personal and  social order. It’s not easy to speak about any without speaking of all. Perhaps we should invent the hyperlink so we can do both.

But as this story shows, some facts are plain. Europe’s forward position on privacy is leading the global policy discussion willy-nilly – that is, the lack of an integrated global conversation that can shape policy has left the field open to the most conservative major player, which happens to be based in Brussels. At the same time, as the story demonstrates, Facebook’s decision to plonk down its European HQ in Ireland (I assume for tax reasons) leaves the Irish Data Protection office with something close to veto power. The Austrian law student, whom Facebook’s European policy head is quoted as saying very nice things about, is pressing his case and reckons that even the Irish response is far from adequate.

Lessons? Well, we sure need a more adequate global discussion. We need privacy issues to be viewed by the major corporate players as keys to profitably business models and not as a nuisance. We need the idea that they seem to assume – that mi casa es su casa; once we hand over the data it’s theirs for ever – to be replaced with a far more  (cliche alert) granular approach. It’s coming, but much too slowly. And I still don’t understand (help me please, Facebook and Google) why we don’t have a fee-for-service alternative in which no data gets kept or tracked at all. Since (per the Facebook filing) each user is worth remarkably little in in dollar terms, this would seem a no- brainer.

Meanwhile we note that Facebook now enables us to see all the data they have on us (in Europe they are required to put it on a hard disk in the mail), which is something.

And an Austrian law student is using Facebook’s Irish corporate registration to leverage the conversation. But hey, century 21 is all about asymmetry, no?

Sober somber post-SOPA: Six lessons

In the explosion of comment, one or two from me. C-PET is hosting a telecon in a couple of weeks with various views around the table; who knows what stage the debate will be at by then. (Email emily.stubbs at c-pet.org for info.)

1. It’s hard not to reflect that we have just seen a vast new economy flashmob take down old economy lobbyists and a business-as-usual Congress with a nuclear detonation that has not before been heard. Hard not to because there is a tad of truth in both these aspects. But there is a lot more going on here. For one thing, new economy lobbyists (and donors) have been at it. The White House intervention came (ahem) when it was already clear how the wind was blowing.

2. Of course it isn’t over. What have been seen as the more pernicious threats to the internet will now not end up in legislation; but SOPA opponents are right to be on their guard, and its supporters have not struck their tends and departed.

3. The issues remain, with vast concerns (which most though not quite all participants in this discussion share) that IP is being vastly abused, mainly outside of the United States, thanks largely to an invention birthed and controlled in the United States.

4. One plain lesson is: Washington had sure better improve its capacity to engage in foresight and deliberation on emerging issues driven by technology. This is not the last of them! Indeed, we have barely begun.

5. Another lesson is, properly, to recognize the potential of this novel and near-universal medium to mobilize support, and – not least – defend its own territory. Hence my flashmob language. Instant, widescale, mobilization. When Google and Facebook and Wikipedia and Craigslist decide to campaign, and when that campaign is driven by as well as to hundreds of millions of their users, a fresh political force is being generated. In some ways it could be seen as part and parcel of the “exopolitics” (my term for it) which has birthed the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street and No Labels and many other aspects of a growing across-the-spectrum engagement in politics powered by disinterest in politics rather than fascination with it.

6. Specifically, in defense of internet freedom we now know, and I hope Washington has got the point, that a new and potent force is out there, a crowd-sourced highly-informed mob who when mobilized can generate millions of calls and faxes and emails and twist every arm in Capitol Hill. “Leave our internet alone” may or may not be a rational response, but it is deep-rooted and has been energized by the kind of passion that drives people into public demonstrations. It will not go away. Social media is not just about projecting party and candidates’ images and messages; it has a life altogether of its own. Internet policymakers now know they have to work with or around what we might call the Internet Party (IP!). A slumbering giant is awakening, and I have reason to believe will have more and more impact on the options facing policymakers. (Next stage: the mob goes global.)

Post-SOPA: the path forward for addressing piracy.