May 29th, 2008
Mirror Images: Mostly Matching
Sometimes you wonder which popular songs will become folk songs or standards. Which will be reinterpreted for a new generation, which will still sing, which will sound good with Marc Ribot playing a banjo?
Imagine a business based on real-time information provided to participants in an information market. The owner of the information flow charges for real-time access, and gives 15 minute delayed information for free. Perhaps it would look something like this. Individuals pay a fee (or look at contextual ads) and would get the real-time feed from resellers. Resellers would pay a fee to the information provider to sell the real-time feed through their system.
In order for these economics to work, real-time flow (plus the ability to track keywords in that flow) would have to have a demonstrable higher value than delayed information. For instance, real time conversations would only be possible in the real-time feed. The other important factor would be the completeness of the information. The flow of information would need to consolidate all publication via hyperlinks in all venues.
Some sort of messaging infrastructure would be required to receive and relay the information into the live data stream infrastructure. Historical data would be archived and charted, some firms would package and sell this view. Maps of volume of tracks would provide a kind of real-time zeitgeist.
Could there be a service that served as the public record for all publishing events on the Network?
When I was in high school, I used to have long conversations with the principal in his office. I wasn’t there because I’d misbehaved, I sought him out because he was one of the most interesting people in the school. It was a K through 12 Alternative School, so there were lots of interesting people around.
One afternoon we got to talking about keys. I said that the janitor seemed to be one of the most powerful people in the school. He had a key ring with what looked like a hundred keys. This appeared to give him access to all the locked doors on the premises. The Principal smiled and pulled out a key from his pocket. “This key,” he said, “opens every door in the school.” Now that’s a powerful key.
That’s the vision that haunts the internet identity movement — one key to rule them all. But is one key the right number? We have more than one key in our offline lives. We mitigate risk by having different kinds of keys. The key to my car can only be duplicated by the manufacturer. My house key can be duplicated by the hardware store down the street. I give copies to close friends, in case I lose my set. Keys are access tools, they don’t correspond to identity or personas in the offline world.
Would I really want one key that I could use to access everything in my life — both online and offline? How many keys should I have? One way to answer the question is to say, the right number of keys is determined by the size of my pocket.