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Imagine a Business Model for a Real-Time Information Distribution Service

Gomez Adams views the ticker tape

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.

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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 Search splinters, will large pools of the Web go dark?

Sun spots

The point at which one competitor in the market begins to achieve unassailable dominance is the moment when the seeds of change are sown. Search is about to change, you can feel it in the air.

You can measure the quality of Google’s search results by searching for something and reviewing the usefulness of the first two pages of results. For example, the first result for the query “search engine” on Google is a link to “Alta Vista.” Google also indicated that there are 118,000,000 links in the result set. I couldn’t find any simple way to find the last result, the link that Google ranked as the lowest in importance. But since users rarely look beyond the second page of search results, all the rest is a puppet show. The business of Search is the quality of the first two pages of search results. For that search, the only link of interest was to Wikipedia, and Google itself only showed up as its UK site on the second page.

In a sense, this is why Mahalo can “compete” with Google. Mahalo doesn’t need to index the whole web and come up with 118 million links. No one cares about 118 million links. There’s a small consideration set that actually satisfies the query.

And further, a page of links is just a page of pointers, it’s the content that answers the question. This is why Mahalo is now offering a higher content to link ratio; it can be an endpoint rather than a relay station. The attack surface revealed is the understanding what is truly human readable and what satisfies a search query.

“Search” could be disrupted by many approaches: we want a better starting point that links to the thing we’re looking for. Twitter or Delicious could be pointers towards that new thing — Search as a back and forth conversations within a tribe, and contiguous tribes; Search of a subset of pages users cared enough about to bookmark (user gestures). The citation algorithm was a huge step forward in ranking the value of pages based on a keyword search. Citation is no longer enough, as Ray Ozzie notes, users now commonly link, share, rank and tag.  Currently search is anonymous, connecting to a preference set or a user profile could yield more valuable results.

The rise of specialized search raises the specter that some day the entire web will no longer be spidered and indexed. The economics of search are tied to a subset of search queries related to potential commercial transactions. Commercial search subsidizes all other search activity. At some point, that linkage will be cut. As search splinters and begins to operate in verticals, much of the web could go dark.


Intermediation 2.0: The New Rhizomatic Economy

In the spirit of assigning numbers to ideas, I introduce Intermediation 2.0– a new era of data wholesalers and value-added retailers.

Retail distribution’s primary value in physical space is coverage of relevant geography, it’s about location. The Network annihilated distance and a wave of disintermediation followed.

Mahalo, Summize, Friend Feed, Mint, Techmeme, Twhirl, Newsgang and even Google Friend Connect take wholesale data feeds and add value through a transformation of the raw data, the addition of tools, and sometimes curation.

The first generation was Amazon, Travel aggregators, and the news/RSS readers. What makes Intermediation 2.0 possible is the emergence and recognition of new valuable wholesale data feeds. Twitter as a wholesale full-stream event based XMPP feed establishes a new economy around making that stream more valuable to the user.

The question hanging over this new economy is the threat that another round of disintermediation will follow. Developers have bitter memories of platform vendors incorporating their software products into the platform without compensation.

This is where the new Rhizomatic Economy emerges. If 75% of Twitter exists through API usage, the growth and extension of the Twitter stream depends on retailing partners. Twitter improves and grows by providing better API functionality to its partners. Twitter benefits through better distribution and fosters faster innovation.

The days of the totalizing whole, the drive to monopoly and hegemony, of being locked in the trunk, are coming to an end.

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Twistori Evokes Listening Angels and the Wings of Desire

Looking at Twistori roll by on the screen reminds me of the film Wings of Desire. Think of the moments when the angels walk through the city listening to the thoughts, hopes and fears of the people they meet. The words that Twistori has chosen to track get to the heart of what it is to be human.

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