Thursday 12 February 2009

Well, hello there....

Despite having an internet presence since 1996, in some shape or form, this is my first foray into public blogging.

Until I got a Twitter account, I couldn't see the point of web 2.0. I thought it was reinventing the wheel, simply mimicing what Bulletin Board Systems had been doing for the last 20-30 years. I looked at all the little kids getting excited about being able to talk to each other in real time and share pictures and bookmarks and quietly smirked in the corner.

Twitter has changed my view, and I suspect in some ways will change my digital life. I have always been a very passive viewer. I read forums but never post, I read blogs but never comment, I view pictures but never praise, I find old friends on Facebook but I rarely write the first message. Twitter has forced me to engage with people. It is impossible to watch a stream of humanity scrolling up your screen from all corners of the globe and not be touched, somehow, with the wonder which Twitter is slowly but surely becoming.

A couple of years ago I had a discussion with someone far smarter than me about collective consciousness. He, and I to a lesser extent, couldn't see the point of having all these cabbies driving all over the place with 'The Knowledge' stuck in their head, and satellite navigation systems working entirely independantly, resulting in 30 tonne lorries getting stuck on hump backed bridges in the middle of nowhere. Far better, we thought, to stream the cabbies consciousness somehow - ask them to feed into a database which correlated all their shortcuts, hotspots they avoided etc, and link this somehow to satellite navigation.  A lot of people would pay an awful lot of money for something which was 'intelligent'. A web 2.0 satnav system. A way of drawing on so many peoples knowledge, experience and current observations. A way to find out about traffic problems from the people on the ground, not a helicopter in the sky.

Imagine my sheer delight, then, to discover a map of #uksnow. Quite literally, a map of Tweets, tagged with #uksnow, ripped directly from Twitter. All you need to know is the format to post the Tweet in, and bingo! there's your contribution to the collective consciousness for all to see. So now, immediately, we have real time weather reporting, available to anyone who wants it, faster than the Met Office or the BBC can report it. 

Welcome to the brave new world.

Welcome to the point of web 2.0. It took me a really long time to see it. But now, I've seen the future, and the future is sharing.

NB: I appreciate that perhaps collective consciousness is not the correct term for this. But I don't know what is, there isn't exactly a dictionary for this sort of thing yet, and suggestions will be welcomed!


  1. It is a brave new world for me too. I ended up starting a blog a couple of months ago as well. Keep it up. We are listening... and commenting :)

  2. Interesting article. I must say I haven't yet really grasped the point of Twitter. Lots of people saying not very much. Your examples have suggested possible uses, but I think there are two flaws with it as it stands. One: Abusing Twitter for this kind of thing requires submitting your tweet in a set format. No problem for us geeks, but really, it seems like we should be able to design something a bit easier to use. Two, and this is the bigger problem: At the moment, the information that people submit is usually presented without any filtering. If there are few submissions, there's no way of telling whether they're accurate. If there are many, they quickly become Too Much Information. In order to turn these raw gobbets of data into a conscious presentation of useful information, they need to be processed, digested. It seems to me there's precious little of that going on at present. Maybe that's Web 3.0...