Musings

Gary Lawrence Murphy garym@canada.com
14 Oct 2001 12:12:04 -0400


Since the variety of sources of A exceeds the capacity of the consumer
endpoints to sort and evaluate, we will always have B as a source of
metadata and as a load-balancing proxy. 

Metadata and proxying is what a real-estate agents do, it is what
import companies do, and it is what stock brokers do.  Since the
ability to add metadata requires expertise, it will always require an
"educated" B-layer population, ie, people from a culture who can
afford the spare time to become expert in their data sources (ie, us)
and will always be required to provide high-capacity
proxy/load-balancing so as not to swamp the suppliers.

Consider, for example, the notion OpenCola presented of essentially
having the user community of a Napster provide the rating metadata to
each other; it sounds good in principle, but before too long, you will
have so many "super-recommenders" that you will need
"super-recommender recommenders" and so on.  Remember that when the
web started, we had so many sources of data and such poor indexing
that most individuals contributed only their hotlists, ie, they
provided metadata and proxying to help consumers evaluate connections
and find resources.  

Even today, there are huge classes of search queries which Google
cannot accept with it's simplistic keyword matching.  If you have the
magic combination of keywords, you can find just about anything, but
not if you simply assume, as humans do, that the words in the query
may have semantic effects on the meaning of other words in the query.

Consider the following query: Compare Tomcat with Jetty.  The answer,
if you can find it, is not going to be on the Tomcat or Jetty source
sites, and if it was, you'd expect bias.  Instead, the answer is
going to be found on a knowledgeable meta-data provider, ie a 'zine.

Nothing has changed except the communications channel.  Instead of
using the phone to call a broker in your local town, you can use
Internet to find your own best set of recommenders, and in turn become
a meta-recommender to others who might find you before they find them.
-- 
Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@teledyn.com> TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Innovations Through Open Source Systems: http://www.teledyn.com
"Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers."(Pablo Picasso)