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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

iCites are not blog-centric, and system of ends

posted: May 2, 2003 4:10:00 PM

Since I am talking so much about blog software, I should say that iCites are not blog-centric. The earlier experiments I did prior to conceiving the iCite net were actually done around library catalogs, e-commerce stores, content management systems, and online discussion forums.

But, I think, because of the rate at which blog content is developed, and because of the decentralized and unmanaged domain of blogs, having bloggers play with iCites will be the fastest and least controllable way to get to know iCites and see in what ways they are fun and useful and all the things that would be nice.

One of my big design ideas with the iCite net was that, because of the Internet, systems could be designed from the edge first rather than from the center first--without there even being an absolute central "entity" of a system. So, most things like catalogs, cms, and forums are designed around central systems. (But, these days with the Internet, lots of energy is going into caching and "pushing content to the edge".) So, the iCite net is designed to be a "system of ends" (to borrow from The World of Ends).

With the iCite net, the edges (or surfaces) are where things are experienced, and the "center" is simply whatever any individual or group or group of groups holds at the center in any moment--it is not fixed, and its centrality (or singular identity) is a kind of temporary point of view with utility. It is not some kind of "real inside", the outside of which everything points to. Everything ultimately just points to everything.

I think what I resonate with in the idea of social software is this: it is designing for many different bits freely connecting to each other rather than designing for a central "entity". Not that there can't be a central repository or something, but just that it isn't like "we use a groupware application" but more like "we connect openly".

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