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

One more hmm for 2005

posted: Dec 30, 2005 6:51:26 PM

I've got a bunch of stuff almost done to post / announce here. But, I've had a cold this week, plus a work project I'm doing has taken more time than I was hoping.

So, maybe a bunch more stuff will appear here in the next day—more likely, it'll appear soon, aka "early next year".

The thing on my mind lately is one of my original motivations for starting the iCite net project: the desire to remove dependencies on centralized web services. In particular, I mean services that let people collaborate / socialize / create something together, but which currently seem to need to be built as centralized websites.

For example, Flickr let's individuals and groups share their photos with each other in lots of nice ways. But, at this point, these nice features are dependent on Flickr being literally (and, inherently) centralized in ownership and domain.

(So, what I'm saying could be said about many web services. And, for the record, I really like Flickr the way it is just fine—which is why I'm using it as an example rather than using a site / service I don't like as much.)

What's great about the web is the web, i.e., the global interconnection of people and ideas and information. And, in this sense, Flickr helps create a great web.

But, that web all lives at, which I think is an issue not so much because it's a web contained within a single domain name, but because it is a web contained within a single (non-public) owner.

It's not so long ago that represented a similarly nice web (of music) contained within a domain name. And, now, that web is 100% gone—we might say it was destroyed through it's dependency on a single point (, which "failed" (to support the web that was created there).

Anyway, this is not to suggest that sites like Flickr shouldn't be built or that there isn't value in centralized web services. Rather, I just want to note that 2005 was a year in which a lot of enthusiasm for the web got directed (some might say, co-opted) into building centralized services or consolidating distributed services into centralized ownership.

So, I still see in front of me a same, fundamental, challenge for the iCite net: creating some interesting web services that are not inherently centralized. If you've been reading this blog for a while, this may seem like an understatement, but I guess this is going to be a long haul!

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