07:48 AM

TrendWatch: One Ring To Bind Them All - The Quest And The Folly

There is much discussion lately about the need to upgrade our publishing/conversational platforms to bring together all the places where our content is published, and the responses to that content -- one place where it can all be regarded and archived.

One thing is for certain, what we have right now isn't cutting it.

Om Malik wrote a thoughtful piece last week: The Evolution Blogging. After a long preamble he eventually got to his point:

...blogging platforms need to evolve from the hierarchical content-management systems of today to more fluid, free-flowing, more socially relevant and real-time lifestreaming systems.

Robert Scoble, for example, has been jumping around saying at one point that he will spend more time on Twitter and Friendfeed, then back to his blog, critical of the Friendfeed and Twitter, then seemingly back again.

Steve Rubel, has jumped over to the Posterous platform. "I have been looking for a new publishing approach." [Posterous is Changing How I Think About Blogging.]

There's a lot of oscillating between platforms, the "power users" aren't happy. And now that Facebook has acquired Friendfeed, it's caused more unhappiness.

The problem is that there are way too many places to publish and to "converse." How do you keep up with all your Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, sms, email, etc?

One ring to bind them all is the goal, one place to publish and to converse with all your communities.

Emily Cheng says it well, describing a great tool or service.

What I want (and have done some sketches for) is a self-installable system where I create my content (text, photos, videos, links, etc) and selectively push that content to the greater ecosystem as digital copies. I maintain and create the "write" privileges to my content, allowing social networks to "read" the digital copy. It's certainly an evolution of blogging, but I like to think of it as a personal user platform. Create once, own the content, distribute widely, receive real-time incoming conversations and connections in my dashboard.

The services such as Facebook would love to be the one-ring, but we all know that the Internet itself is the one-ring.

Dave Winer said it well the other day:

. . .it's time to use the web again to store our ideas, and instead of relying on Silicon Valley companies to link our stuff together, let's just use the Internet. That's what it was designed for.

But the web is a fragmented thing and the only way to pull it together is through open APIs.

But the doors of the services will never become wide open, only ajar -- and that jars people like Dave Winer, and others, who want an truly open world.

For some people, Facebook will become the "one-ring" in a similar way that AOL was at one time to many. But if one thing is clear in the online world is that these media platforms will continue to fragment and we will produce new platforms, and people will continue to move among them. And we will continue to struggle with keeping up.

There will never be a one-ring to bind them all -- except in fairy tales. And the reason is that it's not about technology and open APIs -- it's about people and their communities.

People change and their communities change. People move on and their communities move on. That's what happens in the offline world, why should it be any different in the online world?