Back in 1996, when I first surfed the web, the Internet was just a network. Now, it’s a complete world. A world of worlds, actually. Have you ever wandered what is the currency of the Internet? What makes it move every day, every hour, every minute, every second? If there is a world, there have to be money. Or a form of money, a currency, something that you exchange for your basic needs every day.
I had to ask this question in a more serious manner these days. I was in the 2000 bloggers project, actually I am still in, even with a little mashup. For those of you who lived on Mars for the last week, there was a project started by Tino Buntic, in which he created a random window of the blogosphere, by making a photo wall of the faces of 2000 bloggers. Nothing evil, after all. But what followed was completely unexpected. Each and every blogger, proud to be in that nice face-wall, put the collage in his blog. Which exploded into a 2000 link block to other 2000 blogs. That they had another 2000 links and so on. The link factor got crazy.
Technorati had to review their link ranking policy, and, to be honest, that was the exact moment when I realized that something was wrong. Or not totally clear. Or just a little foggy. And then it hit me: the link is the currency on the internet. It is the only thing that make it grow and live each and every second. This is the blood that actually runs through the internet veins.
The 2000 bloggers was just an inflation. An unexpected boost of the currency on the market, with no tangible coverage. It’s the same with real life inflation, when you just print out money without coverage. In this case, of course, there is a coverage, but we’ll talk about that later.
Our world – called Internet – has also workers, right? There must be workers in every known world, and in the Internet world it happens that they are knowledge workers. They harvest information in zillions of ways. Business, travel, technical, religious, fun or plain boring informations are harvested by each and every inhabitant of this world. Who harvest the more, have the best influence, like in any harvesting activity. He is the most powerful. Google or Yahoo, for instance, they harvest the most out of the Internet. They are the most influential harvester. CNN or BBC does the same.
So, under the “information harvesting” layer there is a more subtle, but heavier, “influence” layer. And influence always comes hand in hand with money, and I mean real money, that we use every day for real stuff. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the Google or Yahoo shares in the last year. The bigger the influence, the bigger the share price.
But where actually is this influence built by harvesting information? Where can you find it? Of course, in the knowledge factories. Every business that tries to deal with the Internet is a knowledge factory. It rarely deals with real bricks and mortar, they just manage knowledge and information. The most known knowledge factories are: portals, like Yahoo or Google, news portals, like BBC, or CNN, news aggregators, niche portals, or, and this is something really extraordinary, blogs. Yeap, blogs. Personal opinions. Real people. Individuals. You. New media you.
And if we have factories, we do have stock markets, right? Of course we have stock markets, and these are called social sites. Like in any normal economical development, they appeared after the factories have reached their maturity, and now they just adjust the currency value. If there is too much currency all of a sudden – a bunch of unexpected links – they ban the initiators. They take out the links that could point to them, like in lowering the price of a share. If a product – a story, a blog post or a nice video – it’s making a real influence, well, the stock market pays it with bunch of links. Being no. 1 in Digg or Reddit is like hitting big at the stock market, you end up with an immense capital of links…
And this can be furthermore transformed in money. Somehow. But that’s not the point. The point is that for the first time in history we have a currency for trading money.
But this currency is starting to quickly become obsolete. It’s changeable and cheatable. The 2000 bloggers project just proved it. The stock markets needs new ways of looking at links, or to establish a more reliable ranking algorithm. Something like this (click on image to enlarge it):
The image is part of the mind map I used when I write this post, and which will serve me as subject for the next post, which happens to be in the mind mapping series I just started. I don’t know yet how much links I will get on it :-)…
Back to the economical stuff: as you can see, the higher value associated to a link type, is the one that has the higher personal touch. And the lower value is the one that has the lower personal touch. Do you see other link types and values? How much would you assign to a mail link for instance? How much is really worth a site with a PR of 9 using this scenario? Or a PR of 2?…. Feel free to comment on that.
In a dystopian world driven by incessant hunting for attention, a few characters are embarking on a journey of discovery. Pushed forward by ambitions or just curiosity, they will eventually discover that life, as they knew it, was simply a cover for a much deeper, sometimes elusive, order.
If you want to know how their journey unfolds, check out my first science-fiction book on Amazon. Click the link below or the cover on the left.
The World, Dripping - All You Need Is Attention