Unified Theory

I read David Weinberger‘s book, “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” a long time ago. The last I heard was that he was a commentator on National Public Radio (NPR) and was the publisher of JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization). Several books and magazines were privileged to have him as a writer. But, I am not sure what he is doing now.

WETLands chill zones

A great mind is all I cared about. He wrote a very profound book on sharing, networking and how the web/internet worked. He influenced me greatly as many other minds have done in the past.

The book should be read by anyone who works on the web or is a social networker. The philosophy applies to any setting on the net where there are people or groups in dynamic relationships.

raftwet jewell in a hammock on WETLands

A simple way to understand his book is to understand that all of us represent a small piece of the web. We create websites, videos, photos, blogs, avatars, accounts and groups. Even our screen name or email moniker is a small slice of a greater pie.

How we interact is unique, but yet a shared experience. When we go to a website, we usually don’t ask for permission to view it. Most sites are free to use. Yes, there are some that ask for registration or small fees to maintain space on a server. But, mostly, the net is free and we all share it.

When we create an email or website and we link a site, we don’t pay anyone to give that link out to our readers. In fact, most site owners welcome the links into their sites as that just draws more traffic to their products, services or information.

Weinberger points out the difference between real world restrictions versus digital. He says that you can’t build a door to your neighbor’s apartment or space. You have to have permission. But, the net allows anyone to come into a space or domain. This is how Tim Berners-Lee originally created the web so that scientists could share their research and communicate as a group.

With groups, we create them because of shared interests or goals. In the real world, groups are refined to a small geography… your neighborhood, the gym or a club you frequent. In the digital world, the geography is meaningless. Your group is expanded by interest only. Not even demographics apply because the interest or subject matter is more important when sharing.

WETLands waterfalls

I bring this up because of THE A LIST! group in Second Life. When we created it, we had a singular focus in mind. We wanted to have a group that would support each other and everyone’s interest. Someone said it was impossible since the goals of each member were so different. But, I had to point out that the real goals and interest were to preserve the grid and the health of the economic base. It was purely a business goal.

All of us in this group want to prosper and we want to share our interests with the grid. We want traffic, we want our retail to be successful, we want to expose the best artists and musicians to the grid and we want to all have fun doing this.

WETLands in virtual world

So we network together. Sim owner A may find a builder in the group who helps them create a mall. Then A might find out that a popular musician can help them bring traffic to the sim on a grand opening. An artist may network with both to get their art on the sim and in the builder’s builds. A scripter might help script an awesome dance floor for the builder as they network with A to make a small club. A fashion designer might create a special t-shirt for the grand opening and then decide to rent a space there to sell her fashion line. There are no degrees of separation; just finding the next connection.

Weinberger ends his musings with this, “…it is not quite true to say that we’re sharing the new world of the Web because we want to. We’re sharing the new world of the Web because that’s the type of creature we are. We are sympathetic, thus moral. We are caring, thus social.” He says the web is “fundamentally ours.”

WETLands in Second Life

The social network is the key. We share and we will thrive. We care about this place. Our exposure to other resources and information from each other will help us grow. And, how we do that is by networking together and putting our differences aside. That my friends, is THE A LIST!, and how we do this is up to each of us.


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