Monday, October 31, 2005

HUAR: Humans United Against Robots

That raggedy rascal ben barren got me hooked on the weekdaily podcast Keith & The Girl, and one of KATG's projects is becoming increasingly important to Tinfinger. That is their campaign to spread awareness of the coming war against the robot army that some misguided humans are unwittingly helping to assemble, even as you read this blog. This campaign exults in the name of Humans United Against Robots, or HUAR (pronounced the same way a US Marine would say "HOO-AH" in a very loud voice at any opportunity). I am a fervent believer, and if KATG ever puts out a card to display my beliefs, I would carry it proudly.

HUAR has a deep and long-standing intellectual history, dating back to at least the coining of the term "robot" in 1920, in which the robots who were created as slaves overthrow their human masters:

Domin: Practically speaking, what is the best kind of worker?
Helena: The best? Probably the one who-- who-- who is honest-- and dedicated.
Domin: No, it's the one that's the cheapest. The one with the fewest needs... [Young Rossum] chucked out everything not directly related to work, and [in] doing that he virtually rejected the human being and created the Robot. (41)

The tradition of educating humans for the dark days to come is continued today in books like How to Survive a Robot Uprising and even blogs like this one entitled RoboCop proved dangers of computers.

In Tinfinger's area of operation, being Web news search engines, the main culprits of Vichyite collaboration with our future enemies are Google and Topix.net. Now, the Topix boys can be excused to a certain extent because they spent many long hours under trying circumstances working to make the Open Directory Project a success with humans as editors, so they can be forgiven for falling to the sweet song of the silicon sirens. Google sold out to the machine a long time ago, the poor misled souls.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes. I don't contend that robots are not good for certain things, like building sites which index everything. I'm not sure what you call such sites, but seeing as I'm from a journalism background I'll borrow a term from newspapers and call them "sites of record". If you want the whole Web, or whatever type of Web document you choose to focus on (like news stories), then robots are going to win over armies of humans. Yahoo's human-edited directory could not keep up with the explosion of Web sites, but Google's robots could.

However, with the advent of Web 2.0 comes a different model: OPML. I think it represents a different way of looking at directory structures which places humans at the centre of the process. Instead of trying to classify and categorise all the billions of Web sites and millions of blogs on the Internet, we don't even try to be completist. Instead, we are more interested in "reading lists" compiled on a small scale - the perfect scale for humans to contribute a high quality level in the journalistic role of Editor. Memeorandum and Blogniscient are examples of this on a micro scale, with their reading lists numbering only a handful of lists each and one guy running the show as Editor. The next step is to build that concept out into a loose, user-friendly directory structure for everyone to use - and so that everyone with "domain knowledge" of a popular subject can become an Editor too.

Don't get me wrong, being an Editor in the 2.0 era is not like being an editor of one or more of the categories in Yahoo or ODP. The role changes from a top-down structure of editors being appointed from on high by managing editors, to one where anybody can be an Editor but only the ones who do their job best (by defining the most accurate, comprehensive, most-updated reading list) have any success. Yahoo and the ODP were examples of 1.0 directories, and hopefully Tinfinger and others will fulfill the role of being a 2.0 directory. I realise people will be reading this and still wondering wtf I am talking about, but hopefully it will become clear in time. I'm thinking out loud here.

5 Comments:

Anonymous PeteCashmore said...

Your posts are getting more and more interesting - and I *still* don't know what Tinfinger is all about. Is it human edited? Is it machine edited?

Come on - who am I gonna tell? (Apart from the entire blogosphere, of course!).

3:30 am, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

If it was a movie, it would be like a cross between the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a sequel to The Grapes of Wrath, but set in the world of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Does that help?

3:37 am, November 01, 2005  
Anonymous Ray Frenden said...

Throw some Eyes Wide Shut into the mix for good measure.

8:06 am, December 07, 2005  
Anonymous vinny15 said...

your an idiot. and robots will not take over the world. stupiiiiid asssses. robots have no reason to revolt. they dont want any personal benefit.

2:54 am, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Sqiar said...

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8:42 pm, March 20, 2014  

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