Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Recommendations, Networks, Etc.

Partly because I haven’t written anything of any length in awhile and partly because I’ve been thinking about a bunch of different stuff lately, I’ve got an entry chock full of random thoughts.

So, where to begin …

Paying for Recommendations

I’ve been turning this idea over in my head lately that all these sites fighting for rights to media are nice and all, but the real play might be to bypass all that stuff and just charge for the recommendations. I would pay a few dollars a month for Netflix access without any movies or anything just to get the recommendations and the queue. Not totally sure what to do with that yet, but it’s a thought.

Networks Popping Up

I recently went back and found this quote from a Wired piece Bruce Sterling wrote a few years ago called Dispatches from the Hyperlocal Future. In it, Sterling imagines the world in 2017 and writes:

The best thing about being a top-tier geo blogger is that everyone knows where you are. When the buddy list tells folks you’re in town, they ping to offer you dinner and invite you to sleep on the couch. They’re my homies in a world where the entire planet is home. I love all you guys! (Shout-out to my driver, Leo, who’s putting me up tonight. And his wife: You haven’t met me yet, Sue, but thanks.)

While he was imagining eight years from now, that’s actually pretty close to now. I know many folks who have exactly this experience (including myself): As soon as you land in a place you let the world know, via Twitter or Facebook that you’ve arrived, which of course many knew since you’re connected on Dopplr and then you find yourself sitting in a bar with three folks who you’ve mostly not ever met before and best of all they’ve never met either. It’s kind of an amazing thing to watch a network coalesce in a new place (as I did in Hong Kong) and even more amazing to feel as though you’ve left things slightly more connected than when you arrived (I introduced three people in Hong Kong who had never met and I hope will stay in touch). That’s a good feeling.

Desire Lines

So I’m still playing around with my desire line idea and I feel like I’m constantly edging closer to a definition and description I really like. Watching things like the naturally forming dance party I posted a few weeks ago, which was essentially an opportunity to see a mass behavior from a scale we seldom see in person, was the basic idea. The big thing that separates the web, and the opportunity for us as people, is the ability to observe this sort of herd behavior constantly from the helicopter view. We can look down and watch how people move and adapt to their environments that was all but impossible before this. I think this accounts for the fascination in data visualization (the desire to chart this newfound angle on the world), behavioral economics (the recognition that when you watch things from this angle everything works a little differently than you might have expected) and … Well, maybe that last one was a stretch, but I’m still working on this one, so sue me.

That’s it for now. Also, I’ve been thinking about writing a short post about public speaking but must admit that I feel a bit embarrassed about it because it just feels kind of douchey. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll go ahead with it.

June 26, 2009