Saturday, 6 October 2007

Mob Rules

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I've just had a fantastic article brought to my attention, courtesy of Ben at 200ok.  It was the closing keynote at the Web Directions South conference that was on in Sydney last week.

Mark Pesce gave a session titled Mob Rules (The Law of Fives).   It speaks of networks, and how the mob uses them, and how networks change because of the mob.  It speaks of change, the destruction of hierachies and the future of networks.

It's written with a focus towards web developers, but there is so much that can be taken from it and applied to libraries. Especially when he speaks of the mob making things that they want happen.

Mark points out the five rules of the mob.  Rule two: The mob is faster, smarter and stronger than you are really stuck out to me.   He's talking of web sites but swap web site for library, and see where it takes you.
You can’t push a mob any more than you can push a rope; you can pull them, lure them, and, if you’re very lucky, dazzle them for a moment or two, but then, inevitably, they’ll move along. That’s bad news for anyone building web sites. The world of mob rules isn’t about sites; it’s about services, things that the street uses and permutes indefinitely. The idea of web sites dates from a time before the network ate hierarchy; sites are places where you go and follow the rules laid down by some information architect. Well, there’s no way to enforce those rules. The first Google Maps mashup didn’t come from Google. Or the second. Or the third. Or the hundredth. Google resisted the mashup. Claimed mashups violated their terms of use. Mashups come from the mob, the street finding its own use for things. The mob pushed on through; Google bowed down and obeyed. The most powerful institution of the Internet era, pushed around like a child’s toy. Ponder that.

It's definitely something to ponder.  Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 is a starting point. We're starting to think in terms of services.  This is the next step forward - moving toward an attitude that is no longer focused on how we want users to use us, but focused on providing the services that the mob wants, how they want it.  Otherwise they'll move on and find a way to get what they want without us.

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