Slowly Moving Towards a Data Web

The web is becoming more atomic. That is to say, the little fragments of information that make up the web are more and more being made to stand on their own.

Every day, content that goes up on the web is less connected to (and thusly less contextualized by) its source. RSS feeds, aggregators, Yahoo Pipes and other mashup technologies immediately pluck news stories, blog entries and other bits of this and that from their www-based nests, wrap them up and deliver them however they like (really, however *you* like if you are game to figure out how to use the pipes).

This, of course, is a mixed bag. My news aggregator/home page/portal that I use as a daily dashboard collects news from some 40 sources and lays it out for me in a somewhat organized but largely chaotic fashion. I like it that way. I used to have to actually visit each of those sites! Every day! It seems so labor intensive now, I wonder how anybody got any information before RSS. Now, right next to the Al-Jazeera headlines, I see the last 4 songs my buddy Jay Stone has listened to, and next to that, my to-do list. Next to that, a list of the last photos my friends have posted to Flickr. On and on, from the global to the intimately personal.

My personal web site (as well as this site) has an aggregator that re-publishes content from a hand-picked few sources and the headlines of the top five stories appear on every page on my web site. This is where I realize the shift that must occur in web publishing: Authors must write knowing that their work is going to be cut up, shared, translated, teased (turned into a headline and an arbitrarily small snippet), and otherwise maimed and mangled. Sometimes this will be done by a person, but it will more likely be done by a 10-line Python script.

Half the time I look at the five titles on my personal web site, and only one of them makes any sense at all. Titles like "My Thesis Research" don't really fly. (i.e. I don't know who "You" are!)

Hey bloggers! Title your posts knowing that 90% of readers won't be seeing it in the context of your web site. Ditch the personal pronouns. Provide a little context.

Some folks get it. I currently see three of the five items on my home page are syndicated from Greg Berry over at Nuance Intelligence (which I will plug as being essential reading). They get it. Now you do too.