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Bloggers, Pheromones, and Ants

2 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Feb 22, 2003 1:32 PM by Bill Venners

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Bill Venners

Posts: 2248
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Bloggers, Pheromones, and Ants Posted: Feb 21, 2003 9:04 AM
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John Hiler writes, "Good bloggers are like ants: they work hard to find news, and then they drop weblog-pheromones so that other bloggers can get in on the action. It's a collective activity, totally different from traditional publishing."

http://www.microcontentnews.com/entries/20021219-2576.htm

John Hiler has a bit more on this topic here:

http://www.microcontentnews.com/entries/20021220-2589.htm

What do you think of the blogging phenomenon?


Berco Beute

Posts: 72
Nickname: berco
Registered: Jan, 2002

Re: Bloggers, Pheromones, and Ants Posted: Feb 22, 2003 8:25 AM
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Funny, since the first weblogs and RSS feeds appeared I've been thinking about weblogs and emergent properties. I just finished reading Steven Johnson's 'Emergence' and can recommend it to anybody that wants to get the first intruiging overview of this fascinating research topic. Here's a good review of the book.
http://www.relevanthistory.com/writing/johnson.html

The question is what the emergent property (a high level phenomenon that can't be explained by looking at lower level processes) will be. In the case of ants it's an ant society without central control that manages to make sure the genes get passed on to the next generation (many Westerners misinterpreted this fact and passed their jeans on to the next generation, wondering why ants are a more successful species than they are). In the case of weblogging this higher level property is less clear in my eyes. For now it's mostly topic ranking (see daypop etc). Then again, it's still too early to call it a day.

The other aspect John Hiler touches upon is the idea to make links stronger when more users follow it. This has been a research topic for quite some time now, most obviously in neural networks and other fields loosly based on neurosciences, but its an interesting approach for weblogs. One of the projects I have been thinking about but didn't have the time to start is to take this 'link-strength' idea into the world of service (whether they are web services, jini services or some other kind of service). What would happen if you make the link-strength to, or between, services a function of the times they have been used together (where 'together' might also mean within the same time-interval)? Would this result in emergent properties? We can't say because if we could it wouldn't be an emergent property according to the definition above! We may guess though, it might help users to automatically organise their favorite services. The Place API (http://cyberspace.jini.org/) might serve as a vehicle to experiment with these ideas.

We live in interesting times.
Berco

Bill Venners

Posts: 2248
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Re: Bloggers, Pheromones, and Ants Posted: Feb 22, 2003 1:32 PM
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> The other aspect John Hiler touches upon is the idea to
> make links stronger when more users follow it. This has
> been a research topic for quite some time now, most
> obviously in neural networks and other fields loosly based
> on neurosciences, but its an interesting approach for
> weblogs. One of the projects I have been thinking about
> but didn't have the time to start is to take this
> 'link-strength' idea into the world of service (whether
> they are web services, jini services or some other kind of
> service). What would happen if you make the link-strength
> to, or between, services a function of the times they have
> been used together (where 'together' might also mean
> within the same time-interval)? Would this result in
> emergent properties? We can't say because if we could it
> wouldn't be an emergent property according to the
> definition above! We may guess though, it might help users
> to automatically organise their favorite services. The
> Place API (http://cyberspace.jini.org/) might serve as a
> vehicle to experiment with these ideas.
>
Hmm. A distributed system in which links are strengthened as a function of how many times they are used. Sounds like a brain. Better be careful. Did you see the Matrix? Terminator?

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