What is the Unit of Information?

October 8, 2011 5:22 am 29 comments

I was just reading a blog post by my connection John Battelle and I felt that his desire for Tapestry needs to be quenched and it gave me good reason to finally pose a question to everyone. If you just want to read the question skip to the end of this post.

Unfortunately iWish is a product Steve Jobs did not build. Else, with a magic wand you could have had Tapestry. I mean this in a respectful way. You can read my tribute to Steve(on facebook).

The question you raise is interesting yet challenging in many ways.

Let us look at what you(John) have to say:

Single Service: Surely 1 single service that brings it all togther is a dream come true. It can truly happen only if there is a way to bring all the feeds(social: so RSS won’t cut it..sad..and its an expanding set..no standards) together and somehow make semantic sense for you(the user) despite all the standard challenges(spellings/contexts) with Folksonomy.

The one way I see it happening is if 1 organization becomes that central messaging standard which can only happen if they are the big daddy of social media (Facebook). There were a zillion firms and VCs that bet their careers on Single Idendity firms(don’t need to name) but finally FConnect has been able to make it happen! Somehow, Magically every website has FConnect, that is how even your blog accepts comments. Lets bear in mind WordPress did allow single sign on across all WordPress so it worked for the Blogging Community but it did not work for everyone. Community inclusion is key. A myopic definition of community is what brings any organization to its limited success or failure. If you wish, you can read more about my ideas on Community First – 9 Elements of Corporate Strategy.

Solution: Inclusivitity.

Hence, the only way anything becomes a 100% or a near Tapestry solution is through inclusivity.

Now if I read your thought process clearly. You say that you do not want to put all your information in 1 system as it is a trust issue clearly how can we give so much power to 1 organization and let it have all my information. Assuming you mean 1 person or corporation would have God like powers and power corrupts.

However, Geogre Orwell said in 1984 ‘Freedom is Slavery’. Yes, we do not wish to hear that term in any country. So, let us understand what Mr. Orwell might have meant if he was talking about information.

Clearly, the only way you will ever get complete freedom to move information around from 1 system to another seamlessly, or aggregate information into a Tapestry or the only way knowledge(Note: not information because I think you want knowledge through tapestry – distilled information) will be truly free(Tagore) if there is a seamless way for information to move around without boundaries.

An excerpt from Tagore’s Gitanjali
Where knowledge is free (read free to move about and free from monopoly)
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments (read tweets, streams)
By narrow domestic walls (Read different social networks)
Where words come out from the depth of truth (Read Tapestry)

One could argue that something has made us all slaves of MS-Office and Windows but in the end we all win. Some people get to be on the Forbes list (its is interesting how Dead and Rich does not get anyone on the Forbes List, refer Seventh Element of Corporate strategy and its stress on a Living Mascot) and you get the freedom to move information around from 1 computer to another in a few minutes when your computer crashes(I am sorry if you are lazy on your back-ups or are not Cloud backed). Why it crashes in the first place is a discussion for another day or post.

I dread to think of a world where we use 10 different word processors.

If that were ever the case, the only gainer will be India whose BPO market will skyrocket like Medical Transcriptions and people will spend Billions of Dollars in outsoucring Document Conversions from 1 format to another.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been talking about the Semantic Web for a while(No, i don’t buy his implementation model) but the concept and desires are the same as Tapestry. We all want a simple and easy way to get all information so it requires lesser effort to chew.

I wonder what would happen to mankind if they eat as much as they read. Would we all be really really fat or really really dead. Do we chew enough while we read? Read less, Chew more.

Can I humbly request us all to close our eyes and ask ourselves a few simple questions:

a) What is the unit of information? (pray, please do not waste your time thinking it is
bits and bytes). E.g. Unit of Distance is Meter, Unit of Time is Seconds, Minutes, Hours. What is the Unit of Information? Is it 1 Web page? Is it a Tweet? Is it a Video in Youtube? 1 PDF from Adobe? 1 Word Document? 1 Excel Spreadsheet or 1 Cell in it? (pray, Don’t try to answer just let the thought sink in first, it takes a while)

b) Now if you have chewed enough on (a) above. Why is it that after 60 years of Technology and at least 25 years of Internet mankind has simply failed to define the ‘Unit of Information’

c) Yet, how is it in a world where juniors don’t agree with bosses, wives not with husbands, brothers not with sisters, fathers not with sons. All mankind magically agreed to the concept of a URL as a simple way to address all information on the web. (Pray, do not quote other examples like Windows as they were commercially driven monopolies. Unless you have an enlightening thought on what commercial monopolist gained or is gaining by the URL).

Today I will not make any attempt to answer the above questions. Truth be told, I have been mulling on a theory for a while. Guess its best it waits for a later post, something called BRAHMA, intentional or serendipitous i don’t know, but it surely is eponymous with the God of Creation in Hindu Mythology.

(Anyone who worked with me in the past 12 months might have already heard some of my initial thoughts so please do not comment on it just yet. Let others Chew! Yet, would love to hear comments from John or others.)

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