David Weinberger, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, was the first keynote speaker today with a session on Rattling [Business’] Foundations. He’s an incredibly energetic speaker and had a very funny set of mostly photographic slides to illustrate his points using visual analogies. As his pitch and volume escalate through the presentation, however, I’m a bit happy that he’s only up there for 30 minutes — he’s pretty intense.
He starts out with the statement that the solution to the information overload is more information, by which he means metadata. He showed an absolutely hilarious slide of weird music CD classifications (Kansas-based Emo; techno-punk wedding music) to illustrate the problems with hierarchical categorization of physical stuff; then moves on to how when things go digital, you’re no longer required to keep things in just one category. A digital photo, through the wonders of sites like Flickr, can be categorized with any number of tags. Now, the consumers of data own the organization of that data rather than the owners of the data — a pretty revolutionary thought for the old schoolers — and can postpone the organization of that data until the point where they need to consume it. Part of the reason for this is that if you don’t, then the data consumers will just go elsewhere, and you can’t possibly guess what all consumers are going to want to do with your data.
His focus is really on capturing the wisdom of the crowds, but mainly for creating metadata (tags/categorization) rather than for creating the main content itself.