Wow. I’ve just read Seth Goldstein’s essays on Media Futures, and am sitting here quivering slightly at the avalanche of ideas he puts across. In a wide-ranging but intellectually right overview of Web 2.0, he summarises entire zones of thinking on APIs, tagging, advertising and participatory media. For me, his strongest point is that the Internet is being “alchemised” by its users, as they use it:
Ironically, [Joshua Schachter’s] citizenship in finance is useful here as it relates to the experience of George Soros, who almost 20 years ago wrote about his concept of reflexivity in the Alchemy of Finance. Soros claims that one’s understanding of a situation changes the situation, and that the secret to his investing success was understanding his (and other investors’) impact on what had otherwise been seen to be efficient markets.
This is consistent with what I see happening online, where meta-data (information about information) is creating significant economic value, from the many millions of Google and Overture keywords to the emerging class of Flickr, Del.icio.us and other tag-driven systems. Our browsing, clicking, searching and tagging behavior are the base metals which alchemists like Josh are turning into precious datastores.
But I hesitate to quote any one single thing. It’s well worth your time reading the whole damn thing.