16 September 2005

Napster for URLs, or p2p del.icio.us

This long post should ultimately clarify my "crystal tags" protocol
but it will take a circuitous path getting there

As the title implies, crystal tags can be viewed as Napster-for-URLs
or as a p2p version of del.icio.us
but the same principles will also apply to images (flickr), music, email, etc

To explore del.icio.us in particular
I'll consider what Robot Wisdom Weblog (RWWL) will be like
if I ever start posting it there, item by item, at del.icio.us

But first I want to admit that del.icio.us is still mostly baffling to me

(Could bloggers declare, say, the 13th of each month to be "I'm-an-idiot day"
and try to post that day about some topic that they secretly feel
everyone understands better than they do?)

I could fairly easily let del.icio.us take over the RSS version of RWWL
but it would feel a little like taking my string of pearls
and breaking the string
letting them scatter before strange swine
since most del.icio.us readers will see the items individually
with no context

and it feels too like I'm trusting my pearls to a site
with no visible means of support
who get nothing back from the bandwidth I gobble
except one tiny popularity-vote for each URL I post
and whatever useful tags I trouble to add
so I wonder will they stick around in the same format
or will they add gross ads...

What I'd gain back is the chance to scan my own blog there
and see how many others linked each URL, and who
and so possibly subscribe to their 'blogstreams'
(though so far I feel uneasy about this,
since I don't think most del.icio.us-ers
expect to be subscribed to this way)

This function is sort of a cerebral 'matchmaking system'
and it oughtn't be too hard for del.icio.us-the-site-itself
to find users with similar url-streams
and 'introduce' them

But this means everyone has to be self-conscious about what URLs they post
so maybe there needs to be an optional 'personal del.icio.us'
maybe "Del.icio.us Desktop"
that works the same but keeps less-public URLs offline
(your porn sites,
your secret identities,
your obscure specialties)

Flickr too could offer "Flickr Desktop" for private images
and Google could offer a "Gmail Desktop" that mirrors in synch
your online mail archive
but allows you to delete the online copies of your most sensitive mail

But if all these Web 2.0 online apps are going to be echoed offline
we'll want the possibility of allowing p2p access to friends,
with special permission-levels

so that your secret Olsen-Twins Fanclub can swap urls or pix or posts
or so you can let your new girlfriend explore your more private sides

And once we get this working a lot of the centralised functions of
become secondary
because you can swap directly via your own buddy-lists

On del.icio.us every URL is a (wasted) potential conversation
between everyone who linked it
and this function of hosting chats
on every topic under the sun
is a tricky one
because you generally want to keep the chat as open as possible
but then someone has to police for griefers and spam

But obviously, policing such chats is not a centralised function
it's a distributed one, with each chat having its own moderator(s).

16Sep: [reply]