Sunday, February 04, 2007

Web 3.0?

Okay, I’m going to stray off message again with one of my random, ill informed articles on something I know jack all about…that narrows down the field a bit eh?

Over the Christmas sojourn I blathered on about the number of people doing great creative stuff on the web for the love of doing it. “Where does that leave the creative industry?” asked little old me. If you can buy decent photos for use in ads for as little as $1, download pretty much everything (music, film and TV) for diddley squat and read some of the best writing around for absolutely zip are we in danger of making the creative arts an even harder way of making a living? By a bizarre coincidence (unless he’s reading this site…in which case hello Jezza!) Mr Jeremy Clarkson wrote a very similar piece in the Sunday Times last week.

Well, I have the answer, we can all relax…the answer is Web 3.0. I am so massively over my head here I can’t believe I’m writing this…but here we go. Web 2.0 is, as I understand it, where we are now. It’s about the net as a platform for user generated content (all the stuff that many of us are getting for nought). There’s a more thorough definition of it here (in Wikipedia…another free resource that’s probably not done a great deal for Encyclopaedia sellers). As a fairly recent user of the net (the last 3 years or so) I’d liken the current set up to a library run (or not as the case may be) by a bunch of anarchists. Anyone and everyone is free to put whatever they want into it and take whatever they want out of it…without anyone stopping them. The result? Absolute chaos. There’s some brilliant stuff on the web…10% probably. The rest is arse…utter arse. How do we find the good stuff? Recommendations from sources we trust or sheer luck. Do the people who produce the good stuff get anything out of it (other than a sense of entertaining others, a warm glow and an occasional pat on the back)? No. they don’t. So I’m recommending a radical approach which, in many ways, goes against everything the net stands for and puts it back in the hands of ‘business’. But bear with me for a mo. The idea is to start again. Back to my library analogy, we’d find a new room that the anarchists hadn’t messed up and put a big lock on the door. Then we’d go into the old library and, bit by bit, take the good stuff into our brand new library. The anarchists won’t care, just as long as they can still look at porn, gamble on poker sites and watch videos of American teenagers drinking horse urine…

Then, as we start to build up a library of good stuff (in the world of the net that’s the good sites with decent, regularly updated content and downloadable music and stuff…you got that bit of the analogy didn’t you…right, I’ll shut up again) we’d open our doors to the paying public. Ahh yes, I did say PAYING, that’s the bit people probably won’t like, but stick with me. We’d need a bit of help with the maths here, never my strong point, but, plucking a random figure from fresh air here, I’d say a fiver a month. Then, with a bit of clever programming (over to a 17 year old from LA), we’d spread this money amongst the people who put blood, sweat and tears into generating all the good stuff. The more people that visit your site, the more money you get. At the start it might be mere pennies but…well you get the picture. First of all I’d like the big record companies to buy into this and allow people to download whatever they want…legally. As our membership grows this should turn into a nice little earner for them and ensure that musicians get some money, as opposed to jack all, which is what lies around the corner. For everyone who pays a fiver a month we’d get the very best of the web, well organised and managed, virus free and reliable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a bland Daily Mail kind of world. Far from it. The inclusion of sites would be down to a wide range of contributors from across the globe (probably the people currently generating what we all read or use). They would suggest a site, existing members view it and vote. If it gets, say, over 75% it gets in.

Of course this is just pie in the sky (or web) at the moment. It’s a fairly radical idea that makes me a little uncomfortable in some ways, but then so does a world in which people who should be getting some financial reward for entertaining us all get bugger all.

In the spirit of giving, this article can be freely copied or quoted as long as its source is recognised. In the event that someone takes it forward of course, I’d like my cut…after all, it’s only fair. Which is where we came in…

NB: If this idea has been suggested by a million other people, I’m sorry for wasting your time…but, in that case, why hasn’t anyone done anything about it?

5 comments:

Ken Davidson said...

Baron!

You're correct in your assumption that content-pricing is not a new idea, but there are few people out there who know how to make it work. It's very much in parallel to the argument raging over DRM-free music: but in reverse!

Your suggestion of ring-fencing the content in a type of mirrorwebverse way is probably the most elegant I've heard.

I do wonder, however, about the workability of the voting system. I reckon you'll still get redneck trailertrash content simply by dint of the fact that popular = mush. (Big Brother, TV soaps, shit music).

Playing devil's "advocaat" (tobasco sauce added) for a moment - if you grant that perceived quality is subjective, don't you therefore need to control the content with human intervention? Then you get into that old censorship / democracy quagmire...

Personally, I think we already have web 3.0 - it's called "books" ;))

Regs, DocDelete

Baron said...

Greetings Backatcha Doc.

As ever, wise words. Yes, that old devil called censorship is the rather big flaw in my plan to create a mirrorwebverse (nice word...you should patent that). But then again democracy has been responsible for Jade Goody, Chantelle and pretty much every other 'celeb' cluttering up my...yes MY world! Grrrrrr!

The whole voting thing would need to be very carefully controlled, which , of course, smacks of Big Brother (the original one that is...). That would be the tricky blighter. But I guess that even if 20% of the mirrorwebverse ended up as pants then at least it would be an improvement on what we have now.

Are books web 3.0? That one got me thinking...

Hmmm...there are, as someone wiser than I once sang, more questions than answers.

Ken Davidson said...

Sorry, with the books reference I was trying to point to a system of information presentation that has built-in content filtration: generally the author needs the wit to approach a publisher > publisher's buyer > editor > proofreaders > then the ultimate filter, the reader parting with cash to own the work...

The Baron said...

Ahhh yes...that explains Mr Archer's success ;)

No, you're right, it strikes me that the 'old skool' world of physical product (books, records and the like) had much more in-built screening than the brave new world of t'web. It'll be interesting to see how things develop from here.

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