Interview With Steve Spalding

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I had a chance to interview Steve Spalding, author behind the blog How To Split An Atom but more specifically, the author of the article entitled Web 3.0 Defined. Web 3.0 Defined goes into specific details as to what the concepts of Web 3.0 will be, how it will be used, and the sites and services that are already making headway towards Web 3.0, a term that is synonymous with the semantic web. This post sparked my interest and Steve was kind enough to answer 7 questions I had regarding the article. Enjoy.

1. Jeff – Why did you decide to use the term Web 3.0? Let’s be honest here, the Internet doesn’t have any version numbers associated with it, why continue the trend?

Steve – The nice thing about a phrase as cliche as Web 3.0 is that everyone in the digerati immediately has an idea of where you are going with the article that mentions it. I could have used a title like, “Future Trends In The World Wide Wide,” but with a title like that, there were just too many ways to interpret the direction of the article. We live in a popcorn and soda kind of world — I wanted something that would get an immediate, visceral reaction out of people.

Does the web have version numbers? I certainly hope not. We just need better language to describe the major milestones in its progression.

2. Jeff – Do you think services such as people search will promote better online behavior considering their past time and reputation will be searchable via the public?

Steve – No. I think that normal people will know absolutely nothing about People Search until it shows up at their front door. I recently read an article in a semi-local newspaper about parents who are being fired, demoted and otherwise harassed because of things that their children are writing about them on social networks. The point is that almost everyone’s kids have been at this for years and it’s only in the last week that anyone has cared enough to point out the dangers.

As for the Web crowd, I think we are so used to our information being out there for all to see that a few new algorithms won’t be enough to raise eyebrows. It might stop a few part time Trolls with full time jobs who aren’t clever enough to find a way around it, but don’t expect a revolution in social mores.

3. Jeff – In this article, you define web 3.0 but, how would you define web 2.0? Bill Snyder believes Web 2.0 is a series of concepts that are different depending on who you ask. Do you agree?

Steve – Web 2.0 is the microcosm that people like us live in. It’s a lot more than just “Social Media” or Facebook. It’s the culture surrounding it. It’s the weekend blogosphere dust ups. It’s Mark Zuckerberg, the $5 Billion Kid. It’s all the inside jokes, memes and investor hubris that fuels our little sub-culture.

No movement has ever been about the technology, and I don’t see Web 2.0 as any different. Just like you can’t describe Post Modernism by looking only at Art or Architecture, you can’t understand “Web 2.0” without seeing all the little cultural nuances surrounding it.

4. Jeff – Most of what you describe in your article relies on an algorithm. Will these algorithms ever fully replace a human being?

Steve – Algorithms never live in a vacuum. In my day job, a lot of what I deal with is machine intelligence. If there is anything that this has taught me it is that it will be quite a while before any algorithm is able to replace a human being in anything more than niche applications.

Will we have better search agents and expert systems? Yea, certainly. A system doesn’t need a terribly large amount of “real” intelligence to do that sort of thing. If you are looking for “general purpose” intelligence, I say give it a few more years.

5. Jeff – Do you believe that web 3.0 will be the death of editorial blogging? That is, long written articles. If so, will it be because people will seemingly have no time to read an in depth post due to the massive amount of other information streaming into them?

Steve – I think that even though attention spans are decreasing, people will always want the news.

Journalists and citizen journalists alike will just need to learn how to present it in such a way that it caters to our Mocha Latte culture.

6. Jeff – It has taken some time to reach web 2.0 status. Where are we now in regards to web 2.0 and how far away are we from seeing Web 3.0 turning into a reality?

Steve – Where are we? I can’t really tell you. That’s up to O’Reilly to decide, isn’t it? Seriously though, when Web 3.0 or whatever you want to call it hits, it will be about half a year before the punditry realizes it.

What I can say is that it won’t be for now. Almost all the innovations these days are along the same vectors. Everyone is just adding features. There isn’t any real, paradigm shifting innovation. More than that — all the important, meaty computer science problems are being left on the table and being replaced by Smarty templates and AJAX libraries.

I know Powerset is doing some things with search, and I am sure Google has a few widgets hidden in a lab somewhere but until we seeing some innovative, commercially viable applications start hitting the market, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

7. Jeff – Last question Steve. Because of RSS and essentially everything containing an RSS stream, how do you think people will cope with managing such a large stream of data? Quite a few people already suffer from information overload. Will this be a barrier worth considering or will a new or existing market emerge which focuses on information organization?

Steve – I think everything these days is about organizing data.

Web .5 was about communication. All that terminal stuff we did before the web got pictures.

Web 1.0 was static information, content that was manageable not because it was arranged in a coherent data model but because there wasn’t a lot of it to deal with.

Web 2.0 is about communication again. This time we added AJAX, created a bunch of buzz words and injected a few billion dollars worth of investor capital. The more important thing is that we are now trying to add some structure to all that information we collected back in 1.0

Web 3.0 will be about data as a commodity, data as a utility. It will be a web where everyone has easy, personalized access to a store of information orders of magnitude larger than what we use today. Things like RSS will give way to personalized information streams that are managed in part by software. It will be about using technology to make massive data-sets palatable again.

If you need anything else, drop me a line. Thanks for the opportunity!

No Steve, THANK YOU! If you haven’t already, add Steve’s blog to your feedreader. Like his Web 3.0 Defined article, the rest of the content featured on his site really makes you think.

Is The BlogRush Over With?

My BlogRush Stats

When I initially became aware of BlogRush and it’s associated claims of rushing traffic to blogs, I became extremely interested. As a blogger myself, I’m always looking into new ways to generate traffic. As we now know, BlogRush has itself experienced a rush, a rush that I believe is bigger than any smalltime blogger currently using their widget, has experienced. Their system is simple and at face value looks like it would work for everyone, but after reviewing my stats, it looks like it won’t work for me.

My BlogRush Impressions

Out of 2,401 impressions or appearances on various sites, only 4 people have clicked a headline attributed to my site. If you ask me, that’s not exactly a rush of traffic. Now I know it could be possible that the headlines to my articles suck, but is that really the case? My blog is currently competing within the Computers and Internet category and I myself have clicked on a few of the links within the widget on and have found some really cool sites. However, till this day, I have yet to see any of my posts appearing on anyone else’s widget. I even spent half an hour, clicking on various posts from one widget to the next, and I never saw one post from my site.

It’s also worth mentioning that I have checked both my Entry pages, and my Exit pages for the widget url. As we’ve seen earlier, at least 4 people have used the article headline on the widget as an entrance page to my site. However, there are 25 hits for the widget url being used as an exit page. Although I don’t know how many of those exits are attributed to myself, I really feel as if I’m doing everyone else a favor, by having this widget published on my site versus helping myself out.

The only people that seem to be benefiting from this service are the big blogs who most likely have quite a few referrals. BlogRush has stated in their latest email that:

We’ll soon be adding a bonus credit system that gives certain bonuses only to our low traffic members since they need the help the most!

That may be enough to help us small timers out, but only time will tell. So far, I’m experiencing lack luster results with BlogRush and apparently, these people are too although I’m not sure why Darren is using Blogrush as his blog gets enough traffic as it is.

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BlogRush What Is This New BuzzWord

BlogRush.com LogoTheres a new buzzword in town that is sweeping across the blogosphere like wildfire, but what is it? That word is, BlogRush. A new way of generating traffic to your site or blog.

As I was monitoring my RSS feeds on a very early Saturday morning, I read a post that discussed BlogRush and what it was suppose to do. I saved it in my news bin as I was interested and wanted to give it a try. Here we are, two days later and this BlogRush widget is appearing on just about every site that can be considered a blog.

Background Info:

BlogRush in it’s simplest form is a content syndication network. If you add the widget to your blog, your own site will appear on other blogs with the widget installed. I know it may sound like one of those other blog advertising deals but this service dives into the equation a bit deeper.

BlogRush.com Widget

BlogRush works like this. Users signup and install the widget and display it somewhere on their site. If your site receives 100pageviews a day, your blog links will appear 100 times on other BlogRush widgets across the network. That’s great and all, but here comes the juicy part. If a user who is browsing your site clicks on the tab underneath the widget that reads ADD YOUR BLOG POSTS FOR FREE and they signup for an account, that user is added to your own BlogRush account as a referal. Now, when that user installs the widget to their site, your blog content will appear on that users widget 100 times in addition to the 100 times your site would appear across the network. As you add more referrals to your account and gain more traffic to your site, your traffic grows exponentially.

What I’ve Noticed:

Throughout the day on Saturday, I noticed that the same links would appear on my BlogRush widget, no matter how many times I refreshed the page. I think this was due to the lack of websites that were added to the same category as mine. However, the links have changed each time I have loaded my front page today, so that problem appears to be fixed. I also want to let you know that I myself, have clicked on a few of the links that appear on the widget that is published on this blog because they have been relevant and interesting. So in a sense, I have demonstrated to myself how this syndication network works.

Since displaying the widget, I can attest to seeing at least 5 people who were visiting this site who were referred by a BlogRush widget. The reason for this varies. Either the headlines to my articles suck or, it was early in the adoption phase. Considering this widget is gaining in popularity extremely fast, I expect to see the referral links increasing as time goes by.

Improvements Needed:

I’d like the ability to edit the width of the widget. The one on this site is just a pixel or 2 too big and it’s crunching the left sidebar. Right now, there is no way to edit the size of the widget. There are also no reports or stats as of yet. Apparently, that part of the service is still under construction. At first, I wanted to suggest a way for us to customize which sites appear on the widgets based on tags, but I have to admit, the BlogRush algorithm seems to be doing a pretty good job displaying related content.

At times, there are blog headlines that appear in my widget which seem screwed up. The headlines appear as all question marks as if I don’t have the language pack the headline was written in. It could also be the case that the blog entry was spam. Speaking of blog spam, it will be interesting to see if BlogRush actually syndicates blogspam which in my opinion would send this service back to where it came from.

Conclusion:

This service has come out of no where and is really taking the blogging world by storm. John Reese hit the nail on the head with this service although, I’m not sure what the revenue model is just yet. If you own a blog or a website and you need traffic, definitely give this service a try. It’s free, it’s easy to install, and so far, it seems to be working. If you would like to take part in this blogging phenomenon, be sure to visit BlogRush.com and sign up for your own free account.

If you are currently using BlogRush, I’d be very interested in hearing your experience with it thus far.