Eric Magnuson

My unique intersection of cooperation, sustainable business and local living economies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Edublog Awards in Full Swing Till 12/17

For those interested in the use of blogging in educational contexts you might want to visit The Edublog Awards. I just came across the site from a link on Flosse Posse. I am just beginning to explore the world of educational blogging so finding an award site with links to al the best educational blogs is a jackpot.

The nominies for "Most influential post, resource or presentation" appear to be the perfect primer for those looking for information on social software in education:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

German media empire placing bets on social software

Hubert Burda runs a 102 year old German media company and he is betting the future lies in the connections made possible by social sofware.
Printing will not go away, but I do not plan to open a single new printing plant. We now concentrate on using social software to build closer relations with the communities of readers around our magazines.
This is far from the viwepoint I would have ever guessed someone in his position would have. This is the sort of mainstream awakening that makes me want to get further out in front and fast.

Appropriate Technology

I recently read Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World and what follows are some observations.

When I read that the people of Gaviotas refer to their engineering as the pursuit of “appropriate technology” I got excited. My excitement comes from the fact that I have been starting to talk about my consulting practice using these same words. Appropriate technology, wherther it in Los Llanos or on the Web is an important concept that I think keeps technology in service of human needs. It is when technology is fetishized as THE solution that it ceases to be in service to humans and instead creates more of a parasitic dependency.

Now seems like a good time to draw a parallel with the idea of human-scale development from the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. Gaviotas is an experiment in human-scale development to a great extent through the use of appropriate technologies. Since its founding in 1960, incremental improvements in the living conditions were brought about to meet human needs and no more. There is certianly a deep academic paper in this relationship. I hope to find that paper someday!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Google creating the world brain

Ester Dyson visited Google recently and came away with a new appreciation for what the company is trying to achieve. Google is rapidly digitizing every work of man, not unlike the "World Brian" envisioned by H.G. Wells.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Understanding Web 2.0

Time to spread a little meme love around. Today I am trying to wrap my head around the significance of Web 2.0 in relation to local media. For those of you new to this meme, I recommend reading Tim O'Reilly's essay, What is Web 2.0. The trends driving the decline of print news and the rise of Web 2.0 appear to be one and the same in that the trend is towards participation and local control of data on the user side and towards targeted services on the business side.
While mainstream media may see individual blogs as competitors, what is really unnerving is that the competition is with the blogosphere as a whole. This is not just a competition between sites, but a competition between business models. The world of Web 2.0 is also the world of what Dan Gillmor calls "we, the media," a world in which "the former audience", not a few people in a back room, decides what's important.

I think my understanding of Web 2.0 is shifting from a focus on platform differences to a focus on the business model differences it presents. The most important model difference is that embodied in the network effect, which is a key aspect of a successful Web 2.0 model. The more people use your service the more useful your service becomes. In local media, to me, the answer is citizen journalism.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Roblimo of Slashdot gives newspapers a chance

In this well reasoned treatise, Roblimo lays out the recipe for how daily newspapers can survive the shift to online. I am enjoying the building noise about the death of newspapers. Save the friggin trees!