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17 November 2006


Jay Fienberg

You packed a lot in there--very interesting. So, two comments, slightly disjointed from each other:

When you talk about D.C. being hard to navigate by car, in spite its design: was D.C. easy to navigate when it was designed, e.g., NOT for the car?

It's worth noting that, both in terms of urban planning (at least how you used it in that example) and the web, the "space" is defined in terms of the vehicle.

Change the vehicle, and the space changes too.

And, when you talk about mapping the space of the Internet: I don't think that's viable. The Internet and the World Wide Web work because they do not define a unified space or unified time. There are spaces and times, and they overlap / are coincident.

(This fits into what I've called "different webs", my alternative assumptions to those of "web 2.0".)

So, whether the mapping is via Google or any of the blogosphere defining sites, what's "out there" on the web is constantly happening beyond the space and time mapped by those sites. The better those tools seem to get, the more they're actually missing.

And, Google's success is it's ability to deal with the constant failure of its maps. Blogopshere mapping sites that suck basically assume their maps really work.

Jim Benson

That's right. Exactly right.

You can't map "the internet" but you can map individual journeys through it.

Subjective space is still mappable and in creating those maps we give visual form to our own subjectivity. This helps us convey more of our message by escaping the boundaries of assumed "rational" language and allowing different forms of information exchange to follow.

And absolutely, change the vehicle and the terrain changes. Mt. Everest is much less daunting with a helicopter. The vehicle in the case of the Internet is our own perception.

Ed Vielmetti

Jim -

There's a new feature on LibraryThing, the "UnSuggester". It doesn't tell you what books are close to the ones you have; rather, it lets you know the parts of the LibraryThing universe that are unlike a certain book.

E.g. books on vampires are unlikely to be in the collections of people who read fundamentalist Christian fiction.

A sense of space requires both proximity and distance. I can tell by going through your blogroll that you are close to a few people. Who can I determine you are far away from? We have a network of things infinitely close, but really there needs to be that sense of the alien too.

(and I see you are physically far away right now)

Jim Benson


I am alien when present.

I will try out the unsuggester. I also vow that the next time I'm home sick, I'll try to get back into Library Thing.

The killer Library Thing app would be if I could search my own Library. So I could say, "Who had that quote about folded space being like a cheerleader with a mohawk?" And it would tell me.

The unsuggester I vow to try because it sounds like one of those things that could have unintended uses. Perhaps they aren't things that should be unsuggested because of their difference or antithesis - but should be brought to light.

Maybe it's a Medici Effect engine. "Here are areas that haven't been adequately cross-pollinated."

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