ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Your Tour Guide Future —

I’m putting something like a thousand images and scans up on Flickr. I guess that’s interesting.

The concept, of course, is interesting to a certain segment of people. Oh wow, a thousand images, and Jason tends to collect neat historical stuff, so it’ll be a thousand images of neat historical stuff. Oh wow, they will say.

But to another segment, they will never simply browse a thousand images. They have no time. I’m the kind of guy who uploads a lot of images but so do others. People are uploading images so fast to Flickr that there’s just no way to easily get a sense of it all. None. Same with weblog postings. Compared to all this, movies are a steady stream of droplets you can easily catch in a cup.

This has been said in different ways in different places, but I’ve become a strong believer that the future for people looking to make a good buck is to become a tour guide.

We’re no longer in the position of there not being enough “stuff”. There is so much “stuff” online now that a person who wants to find “stuff” could now spend the rest of their natural lives browsing through it. There was lots of “stuff” before but now you can have it fed to you consistently and constantly forever. This is both wonderful and depressing.

The process of getting “stuff” is becoming easier, quicker, slicker, more a natural part of existing. I don’t mind this, but it does mean that we’re getting flooded with content, of which a small amount might be inherently interesting to a specific line of thinking. If I’m looking for, say, the history of glass insulators, there are places within flickr, ebay, websites, weblogs and FTP sites I would probably find interesting. Others might be interested in it too. All of us could appreciate someone being a tour guide to find all this. Some of us might want to be that tour guide.

A tour guide, when good, helps save time by taking you to interesting things, but additionally understands if you want to break off to study things closer. A tour guide knows that not everyone in the tour group is a crazy goddamn fanatic who needs every last detail, but just wants to get a sense of thing. And a tour guide chats with other tour guides on ways to make the tour even better.

We have “linkblogs”, collections of links people dump and others drop on them. That’s nice. We also have places where people kind of assemble weblog-entry-like paragraphs and put them up and people comment on them. Also nice. But in both cases, they’re linear tours, one after another, with a lot of the same ground being covered again and again. Hey, look, someone drew using a etch-a-sketch. I’ve had to sit through a few dozen “wow, nice etch-a-sketch” weblog entries or linkin’-log entries and see everyone discuss them again. Often, shaking the etch-a-sketch is discussed. Sometimes people mention other cases of insane work being done using children’s drawing toys.

I suspect there is a gap out there for sustained group tour guides of stuff. I’m probably visualizing something like what wikipedia currently fulfills, without the additional moronities of policy and fucknuts. A place where you’re clicked in and others are adding links to it and photos and you browse until you’re sick of it and move on. A nice little tour.Variations of this exist but we’re not quite there yet.

Regardless of a software solution, I think we’ll always need people, people who are willing to construct little walking tours for others, who enjoy showing off what they’ve found and putting it all together. I think this is what we need more of, the missing piece to this collecting of stuff we’re all inevitably doing in our lives.

You even get to wear a jaunty little hat.

Categorised as: Uncategorized

Comments are disabled on this post

One Comment

  1. Christina says:

    Have you seen the Passive Multiplayer Online Game (PMOG)? It’s clearly not there yet, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. People are creating pretty interesting missions there, like