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Nielsen: Content Creation for Average People

By kmself in Internet
Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:12:03 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Jakob Nielsen's Alert Box considers yet another topic, this one, topically, is content for the people, by the people, of the people.

The 2-infix notation de jour is P2P, or peer-to-peer networking. From The Standard to Business 2.0 to O'Reilly & Associates to Intel, everyone's talking about peer-to-peer. Though technologies such as Napster are a part of this movement, Nielsen makes the case that content generated by Everywoman, for Everyman (and vice versa), not merely copied and placed, is what will really make this click.

Nielsen points to Geocities as one of the great experiements (and, largely, wastelands) of this initiative. K5 and Slashdot are definitely part of the picture. My own employer's software, (shameless plug alert) AllCommerce, is part of the movement.

The main emphasis of Nielsen's essay is in guiding content creation. A series of rants here at K5 shows that there is a level of ambiguity (not that this is a bad thing) over what's appropriate content, presentation, and categorization for K5. A web and Usenet search this morning at work turned up a number of people who've downloaded and installed our own product, and are trying to figure out how to use it -- how do you go from having the software to populating it and creating a working ecommerce site. While we've created a powerful tool, applications are somewhat in the hands of the user (or our Professional Services department).

So, thesis question: What works and doesn't work in terms of providing guidance to popular use and adaptation of this medium? Slashdot uses an editorial staff to review and select stories. K5 has a mix of technical (submission queue, moderation system) and social (public outcry, rants, dare I say: humiliation) mecahnisms. AllCommerce hasn't really addressed the site design issue yet -- we're using a tabla rasa approach. How much freedom (or guidance) is enough, what's too much?


Voxel dot net
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Related Links
o Slashdot
o Alert Box
o content for the people, by the people, of the people
o O'Reilly & Associates
o AllCommerc e
o Also by kmself

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Nielsen: Content Creation for Average People | 9 comments (7 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Something I've kinda wondered about... (4.09 / 11) (#1)
by Miniluv on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 07:00:46 PM EST

I've always hated calling software like Napster and Gnutella the future of P2P networking, because they're so limited in scope and generally non-creative in that they don't really allow people to expand themselves and their ideas.

IMHO real peer to peer is going to empower people, the same way the web is supposed to. Actually, better than empower, it's going to let empowered people do what they will. I have DSL, I have a server, thus...I have a website. I'm allowed to write whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want to...but people have to find me.

Peer to peer has the ability to change that, to facilitate collaborative creation, developement, growth, et cetera.

On a side note, my personal belief as to why Geocities died is two fold: First they didn't facilitate easy navigation of their massive collection of user pages. And second, the goddamn popup ads. I myself will not visit geocities under any circumstance due to the goddamn ads.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Re: Something I've kinda wondered about... (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by Falkkin on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:11:11 PM EST

I agree with the statement that Napster and Gnutella are not the future of P2P networking. I certainly hope that the mainstream P2P protocols or software currently available (all of which are explicitly designed to facilitate the wanton sharing of copyrighted material, regardless of their claims) will eventually fade out and die.

The Freenet project may have some hope -- I think it's necessary that we have an anonymous way of communicating online (whether P2P or not.) On the other hand, Freenet will also become a den of IP thieves unless restrictions on file sizes are built into the protocol. And, Freenet's stated purpose (being able to anonymously speak to the world, regardless of the oppressiveness of one's government) will be completely undermined if it becomes the de facto means for transmitting MP3's. Due to its storing mechanisms (files requested more often hang around longer, where less-requested documents get quickly purged from nodes), we'd end up with no actual enhancement of free speech for the people in the world who need it most.

In the end, the fate of P2P networking depends on the hackers who design the protocols -- if every P2P networking tool out there ends up being used merely for the distribution of copyrighted MP3s, ISOs, videos, and the like, we can be sure that they will be legislated out of existence by our profoundly enlighted government (at least here in the U.S.... other nations' mileage may vary.)
All portions of this document authored by myself are hereby released into the public domain.
View a copy of the public domain dedication at creativecommons.org.
[ Parent ]
Re: Something I've kinda wondered about... (none / 0) (#8)
by Miniluv on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:27:49 PM EST

I'm gonna have to agree and say that Freenet isn't really the solution...in fact, the more I've been thinking about this, the less I think a strict P2P network is the answer. The main problem I have with it is that it's a horrid waste of bandwidth...and despite all the claims that bandwidth is cheap and available, it's not for plenty of people.

Perhaps it would make more sense to see something akin to the IRC network structure, with multitiered node structure, and clients off of those...we can still store information on the clients, and randomly shuffle that information around to protect it's integrity...even shuffle server status around...but we don't have to have a search bounce from one end of a network to the other to return a simple text file...

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Don't be fooled (3.75 / 8) (#2)
by Dacta on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 07:10:59 PM EST

Content creation has nothing to do with P2P networking/applications.

As kmself pointed out, current website like K5 and Geocities are the perfect medium for content publishing. P2P applications are very different, though. A P2P application is to a webserver as a webbrowser is to library catalog browser. They both perform similar functions, but the control is in a totally different place.

There are a lot of large political and economic power bases that are going to be threatened by P2P applications. The publishing industries is one of the major ones, but I'm positive there are going to be more.

While content creation is a very interesting topic, I'm not sure it really has a lot to do with P2P. P2P networks (as we currently understand them - which will probably change a lot in the next few months) tend to be chaotic and disorganized - not the kind of places you'd try and publish a weekly column or something.

OTOH, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe applications like Forumzilla will take off, and be modified to share content between each other rather than a central site. Maybe we'll need an Advogato-like trust metric to work out which content to use.

Segmented inter/intranet (4.33 / 6) (#5)
by tayknight on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:52:30 AM EST

I'm not sure that I'd want to see and hear from everybody out there. Surely, I don't want to run across most people in my hometown. Some people are scary, dangerous, boring, or annoying. I'm sure that to other people, I have some distracting or distasteful habits.

That said, I wonder why we would want to make the internet, with easy discussion or content creation, wide open. Take CmdrTaco on /. as an example. Some people hate him and wont read anything he writes. Those people reject his stories off their /. homepage. Some sort of system like this must come into play in the rest of the internet. I'm not sure if meta-tags need to get better, or what (although I am sure that a .xxx domain needs to be set up to protect children).

The diversity on the internet needs to be more fully realized. I want to find people who are mid 20's, looking at buying a house for their families, program ASP and VBScript through IIS to a M$ SQL server backend, but really want to learn Linux and PHP and MySQL. I can't be the only one out there, and I'd be interested in others like me. My wife would want to see cardiac nurses and what they do.

The internet is going to have to behave like real life sometimes. I don't want to see or hear what everybody has to say. Geocities is a good example. I've never browsed Geocities. I don't want to run across a million sorry webpages looking for a gem. I want to find that gem, if it meets my interests, quicly and easily. Not to mention that I'm an expert web-browser (Just call me Mo :). My wife, while not a Luddite, isn't comfortable with the internet, The internet isn't too hard to understand, its just that she hasn't ever seen the need to get online. I think if she knew she could find some content that was really going to interest her, she could be a productive web-citized. Mabye that's what we all need.
Pair up in threes - Yogi Berra
Portals vs Peer-to-Peer (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:39:38 PM EST

Bear with me a second here, I'm going to try to make connection between two apparently unrelated things ...

As many of you will be aware, there's a movement in "The IT Industry" at the moment towards "portals". These are web pages or sites that act as gateways to a range of related information, such as news, or auctions, or whatever. Most of the most successful web sites can be
seens "portals" of some kind. This trend has been picked
up to the extent that there are now
special web tools for aggregating information into portals, just as there are specialised "application

At the same time Peer to Peer tools are appearing. Although these have started as essential a way of facilitating piracy by adding a degree of plausible deniability, they obviously have a lot of other uses. Most notably, a peer to peer network can aggregate related information from many sources into a single, widely accessible resource.

Now, interpreted broadly enough, the two classes of system are doing the same thing: they are drawing together information from disparate sources, and providing a single point of access to it. Compare K5 and /. (portals) versus Usenet (P2P), or Napster and Gnutella (P2P) versus MP3.com (portal).

The article seems to recognise this relationship, but confuses the terminology. What both technologies facilitate, to one extent or another, is peer to peer communication between human beings, without the need for a human intermediary. The portal systems, however, rely on big (well, fairly big) concentrations of capital on machines and bandwidth. The trouble with this is that to make them scale needs money (as Rusty no doubt knows). The advantage of the peer to peer systems is that as the number of users increases, so does the amount of bandwidth/storage (OK, in an ideal world).


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
Creativity and Learning (none / 0) (#9)
by wendall911 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:22:49 AM EST

I don't really think that this is really an issue of guidance or lack there of. I think the way the internet is developing is really a product of people lusting for knowledge. Take for instance this forum and /. The group I choose is the one where I can learn the most. If people don't like my opinions, how I design my web pages, how I code, etc., is of no consequence. It is all part of my education. If I am wrong, fine. If I am right, fine. Sorry to break it to Nielsen, but P2P has been around for several years now, and will probably be for many more. As far as giving P2P guidelines to cultivate original creation of content, is great and all, but let's get real. IMO that would be like setting a guideline for writing essays on the books you check out from the public library. Even though I donít create the great majority of what I distribute, be it a joke or freeware, it all gives me one hell of a jump for the things I do produce. If information was freely distributed on the internet, we wouldnít give a crap about P2P. I could go to my favorite meta search and find that old Pop Science article without having to check if the library is open. 10 years ago, I was able to download most any article written in the last 20 years via C-ban satellite.
I too once had a website on Geocities, about three years ago. It was just a good place for me to test my web content on the days the Unix server was sick and Linux was still a growing boy. Maybe some would say I wasted my time even using Geocities at all. Why wasnít I diligently hacking out bits oí Perl? Because I didnít feel like it at the very moment I was posting my new snowboarding pic. Besides, you could kill the ads back then (donít really know or care if you can now).
So is there a proper or improper use for any internet medium? (including this one) Hell no. Do I follow standards so I can feed my family? Hell yes. And if K5 sucks in the end but I learn something, It was all worth it.


Do you really have to teach creative people how to create?

remove my account
Nielsen: Content Creation for Average People | 9 comments (7 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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