Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Credit Crisis video

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This is a brilliant video that visually explains the present credit crisis. It is worth of your time if you have not watched it before. The video tells that the crisis is actually rooted by capital itself. the current presentation of capital indefinitely amplifies the greedy side of human nature. We truly need to invent a new presentation of capital (in contrast to manipulate any economic theory) in order to avoid this type of disasters in the future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Imindi looks for more fund

Imindi, an innovative Web 3.0 startup that dedicates to constructing mind networks to augment human thinking and collaboration, is now looking for more fund oppotunities. As one of the last year's TechCrunch50 finalists, Imindi discloses a new category of Web services that is beyond Web 2.0.

Unlike the other Semantic Web startups, Imindi approaches a new take of Semantic Web. Instead of teaching computers smarter because of human beings, Imindi implements a new mechanism to teach humans smarter because of computers. This vision creatively invents a method towards the Semantic Web but in a Web-2.0 way. As the result, Imindi indeed invents a new category of Web services that might be representative in Web 3.0, i.e., a Web that not only connects users (the sense of Web 2.0) but also actively teaches the interconnected users. More analysis of this new service can be found here.

Due to the present financial crisis, however, the founders have self funded this revolutionary product for far longer than they are able. Hence now they are actively seeking visionary investors to help. Anyone who is interested in lending a hand or want to learn more of this innovative service may contact the founders directly at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Questioning Facebook's New Terms of Service

Facebook has updated its Terms of Services (TOC), which claims its rights over anything posted onto the site, forever (yes, even after the death of either you or your account, or both). A more detailed disclosure of the new term can be found here. My question is, however, why? What on earth is Facebook doing?

Facebook's reputation of user privacy protection is bad. The infamous Beacon had caught many arguments against this popular service. This time, however, the issue is beyond just privacy. It is also about the protection of intellectual property.

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch posted later a statement from Mark Zuckerberg, in which Zuckerberg basically called people to "trust" Facebook of using the data properly into the future. But Mr. Zuckerberg, even if we might trust you and your company (though itself is very much questionable), you and your company have VIOLATED my right of protecting my own intellectual property! Please, this is not only just about privacy, it is also about the value of knowledge.

Whenever I share anything in any network, I should retain the right of ownership of the information. Whenever I keep using the service, as part of the deal for exchanging the service support, it is fair for the service (such as Facebook) to obtain the right of using my shared knowledge. Once I have deleted the account that means I no longer use the service, however, I should and must have the right to decide whether or not I will still give the permission to the previous service to use my knowledge. Facebook's action of eliminating this right from its users simply shows how arrogance and greed this service has become.

I will no longer use this service any more until it literally removes this policy from the term.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

From Semantics to Things, where the killer is

If the Semantic Web is a network of knowledge, the Internet of Things is a network of artifacts. May this movement reveal us how the long-time-expected Semantic-Web killer application might/should/would be looked like? Every Semantic-Web entrepreneur must take a second look at this recent Read/WriteWeb article and think it over.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wikipedia is NOT going to fall, at least in the foreseeable future

No, today's top news in Techmeme is not about Darwin, but an argument "Doomed: why Wikipedia will fail". Is it real? Sorry, I don't think so.

In the article, Eric Goldman (a Law Professor) predicted the inevitable failure of Wikipedia by arguing that by choosing either being "high quality" or keeping on being "open" the destination of Wikipedia is toward "a death spiral".

There is, however, a flaw in Goldman's statement. Why can't Wikipedia be both of "high quality" and "open" at the same time? The hypothesis that "the encyclopedia must choose between being high-quality or freely editable; it can't have both" itself is incorrect. To reach "high quality" we need human maintenance. To reach "open" we demand human participation. Nevertheless are the two goals not conflict to each other, they are supplement to each other.

The key of solving the dilemma is to make maintaining "high quality" be a profitable action! This improvement in the business model requires innovation and creative mind. But it is definitely a goal approachable. And it is another example of why the Web must move from UGC to UGA. When Wikipedia turns the "high quality" maintenance to be a user's profitable action, Wikipedia literally will have been converted its user-generated content (the Wikipedia entries) to user-generated asset (the profitable Wikipedia entries). But be careful, the "profitable" first means that the users who help Wikipedia maintain the respective entries may make profit by offering the help. Then the second it means Wikipedia may produce more revenue by upgrading its business model from UGC to UGA.

Is this hint enough to solve the dilemma? ;-) Yes.

Friday, February 06, 2009

From UGC to UGA, and the limitation of Web 2.0

Yesterday, at ThinkerNet I posted "User Generated Content (UGC), Revisited", which led to interesting and constructive discussion. More or less, all of the discussion pointed to a broader issue implicitly mentioned by the original post, i.e., the limitation of Web 2.0.

To really understand it, however, we may need to review a few of the basics of economy. How is capital generated? When we say that our hard work produces capital, what does it mean? Is capital freely convertible to certain amount of labor and vice versa, or there is something more in the formula?

Capital generation demands labor. No new capital could be generated without labor. But labor only is not sufficient to produce capital. For example, throwing bottles to strangers is a labor, but hardly can it produce capital. To make the labor result be capital, the labor work must produce things that are exchangeable. The internal value of a product is measured by the amount of labor to produce the product; its true commercial value (i.e. the product as a piece of capital or asset) is, however, eventually determined by the degree of exchangeability of the product in the market. The commercial value of a nonexchangeable product is close to zero no matter how much the internal value of the product is.

By this mean, we have capital flow. Things that cannot exchange cannot flow; things that are hard to exchange are hard to flow; and so on. Exchange causes capital flow, and capital flow generates the wealth in our society. When a type of economy can consistently produce wealth to the society, it is a sustainable business model; otherwise it is not.

The essential UGC-based Web 2.0 business model is not sustainable because it does not produce enough exchangeable product. This is the limitation of Web 2.0.

In the post, I revisited a few fundamentals of UGC. From the study, I found that UGC primarily produces attention. Nevertheless does attention contain value, it is not a highly exchangeable product. The connection/attention generated by Web 2.0 help capital exchange rather than itself being capital. Therefore, the businesses built upon this model can hardly walk in a long journey into the future. We need to invent new models to build the real user-generated asset (UGA), or probably we may call it the exchangeable mind asset. By doing so, we will enter a new age of the Web---Web 3.0.

There is one more argument that is interesting. People used to say that nobody would like to pay to read a blog or a message. This is true. But there is actually one more sentence which should follow the previous one. That nobody is willing to pay is because Web 2.0 itself has not really produced anything that is worth of being purchased! Again, it tells the main limitation of Web 2.0.

There are many things we are willing to buy using money. For example, gold, a TV set, or even a pencil. Why do you want to buy them? They have internal value, AND they have exchangeable value, which makes them be asset more or less. Web 2.0, on the other hand, is poor on converting human's knowledge to be exchangeable capital/asset, despite it does help exchange capital in the other forms. This distinction tells the strength as well as the weakness of Web 2.0.

Anyway, from UGC to UGA is not trivial. It demands a great deal of ability of innovation to accomplish the request. But, at least, now we know where we should approach, don't we?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Evolution, a topic uneasy

February 12th of this year is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, one of the greatest biologists and philosophers in history. Darwin left us one of the most magnificent (and debated) treasure of human mind --- the theory of biological evolution.

It is ironic. I do not believe the biological evolution from one species to another. I believe God creation. At the same time, however, I concord on the theory of natural selection that the form (but not the DNA) of the species must evolve with the change of the environment (or the other external reasons). But such an evolution could not cause the emergence of any new species.

My proposed model of World Wide Web evolution is a reflection of this viewpoint of evolution. By default the Web evolution model exclaims the existence of the creators on the Web (such as the Web researchers) who take the responsibility to invent new types of Web resources whenever there is an accumulated qualitative transition. The innovated new types of Web resources could emerge only by creation instead of by evolution. After the creators have invented a new type of Web resources, the Web automatically evolves through the quantitative accumulation of the Web resources and demands the next invention when the amount of accumulation reaches threshold. Therefore, a main issue of Web evolution is to study the subtle and sophisticated relations between the creation and the evolution on the Web. Darwin, on the other hand, disclaimed the existence of creation in his theory.

An issue that is asynchronous to Darwin's model of evolution is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which claims that any isolated system cannot move towards a higher degree of order without the interruption of the external forces. The Darwinian scholars explains it by saying that the biological system we witness is an open instead of isolated system. The problem is, however, that even an open system may not automatically reach a higher degree of order unless there is an intentional external force added upon the system. A room may keep neat because there is someone clean it up intentionally; water may flow from low to higher place because there is a pump intentionally pull it up; and so on. Mathematically and statistically, we know that without intentional design the entire accumulated external forces to a system generally still makes the system move to a state of greater entropy (i.e., lower degree of order). Then there is the question, who does maintain the "intention"? The Darwinian biological evolution could occur only if existing a great "intentional" (and also natural and automatic) external force that itself has to last at least hundreds of centuries and maintains unchanged. I have to say that the faith (instead of the so-called "scientific evidence") needed to believe this Darwinian evolution is absolutely no less than the faith to believe in God creation.

But, Darwin's theory of evolution is still, indeed, a great contribution to mankind.

From one side, it totally discloses the sinful nature of human beings. Without God, our human society is exactly what Darwin observed---a society of natural selection. Only the stronger deserves of surviving while the weaker should, would, and need to be eliminated. By this theory, many truly "unnatural" behaviors such as race termination become "scientific" and "natural" because these people say that it is due to natural selection. Because of this theory, to help the weak strangers becomes a virtue instead of a responsibility of human being. Because of this theory, we are self-excused from many of our evil behaviors since they are nothing but some natural inheritance from our animal ancestors. It is unsurprising that Darwin's theory is so much welcomed. A theory that excuses our sin by costing us nothing cannot be unpopular.

On the other hand, Darwin's theory is a true summary of our present real world. We are in a Darwinian world and many of the rules in this world obeys Darwin's theory. Hence, Darwin's theory is scientific, I agree.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Variation of meanings

Stephen Downes has a nice summary of the variation of meanings. It is valuable to have precise understandign of all these variations, especially for the Semantic Web researchers (or even developers).

Knowing exactly which type of semantics is modeling is a crucial demand to the Semantic Web ontology constructors. Many times the confusion is due to that we do not really understand these subtle distinctions among the meaning variations. For example, when modeling the domain of book,
    we need to specify the literal semantics if the goal is for linguistic parsing;
    we need to specify the semantic meaning if the goal is for library collection;
    we need to specify the pragmatic meaning if the goal is for book sale;
    we need to specify the intentional meaning is the goal is for capturing book review;
    we need to specify the social meaning is the goal is for book club;
    and so on...

The ontologists truly need to read this revelatory article, think of it hard, and read it again.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Do not exaggerate the importance of machines

There is a trend, which began several centuries ago since the First Industrial Revolution and it is still a fashion until today. We often tend to exaggerate the importance of machines, and think of this exaggeration to be scientific prediction, though history has repeatedly disapproved the imaginations.

Kevin Kelly, one of my most respected living thinkers, has a recent post titled Two Strands of Connectionism. In the post, Kevin claimed the co-existence of human connections and machine connections on the Web. Kevin thus suggested the future Web to be a balanced network in the middle of the two strands of connectionism. Nevertheless the vision is illuminating, Kevin exaggerated the importance of machines and, inevitably, overlooked the true value of human mind.

Kevin is right on observing the two strands of connectionism. What I do not agree to Kevin is, however, to equalize the importance of the two strands. The danger of this equalization is that it easily misleads people to believe that the Web intelligence is a fair mixture between the collective human intelligence and the collective machine intelligence. In fact, there is only human intelligence on the Web. The so-called machine intelligence is nothing but a steady, lack of self-creative, and embodied portion of the human intelligence. Any exaggeration of the machine intelligence would only lead us to some unrealizable plots that waste our resources and time.

We should be clear that the strand of machine connection is a way of distributing the strand of human connection instead of being another independent set of connections. By this vision, we may grasp the true spirit of World Wide Web evolution, which is essentially an evolutionary reorganization of human intelligence in contrast to constructing certain independent machine intelligence that is beyond humans. The greatness of the Semantic Web is not about building up machine intelligence. By contrast, it is to be able to connect various pieces of human intelligence in the mind of different individual human beings that we can never realize in any other environment except of the Semantic Web. Whether or not understand this distinction could be fundamental and crucial to the success of any Semantic Web business institute.