One way to think about it, I think, is like this. Ebooks are first generation digital publishing and blogs are second generation digital publishing.
Ebooks are first generation because they exist in isolation and if many people want to read them many copies are needed (6/8/11 — admittedly this is now changing with sites like booktrope.com and booki.sh). Blogs are second generation because they exist in a single place (on the web) so many people can read them without many copies being made and they have fancy features ebooks don’t have, like the ability to be continuously updated, to link to each other and to have comments added to them.
Both are very powerful ways to express ideas. Both are becoming more refined. Both, in my view, share a single, fatal characteristic. They are time-driven. This hinders the expression of ideas. When I turn from page one to page two or move from post to “next post” I move forward in time and I can only go forward and back. I cannot go sideways. But humans don’t think like that; they often think sideways. Hence the creation of “information maps” to express ideas.
But what happens if you mix these kind of maps with the power of blogs?
You get dynamic mapping of information.
There is no equal of “publishing” for maps. They can only be initiated, expanded, maintained and linked to. Thus the map is the third generation of digital Sharing (and I use the upper case deliberately – see this map).
So Cloud-based digital Sharing is here. Slap on a small payment system for access, both into the map and across maps and there’s a beginning for brand new version of the publishing industry. Publishing IM Generation as it were.
But that, I think, is fairly straightforward. What happens after that?
Assume for a moment that knowledge maps are created in the public Cloud but also on private and even personal Clouds. The public Cloud maps would include multiple map service sites, as blogger.com is to blogs and maps on hosting sites (using the equivalent of free blogging software like wordpress).
First we’ll knit all the maps together, that is across all sites – public, private, personal – in a meta-map which continuously and automatically updates. The equivalent of Creative Commons licenses will apply to different maps and they will show up as different colors (or at least that’s a start).
Second we’ll generate a global map index, searchable without needing access to the maps, available worldwide that also continuously updates.
Third we’ll set up a search function so that someone looking can enter search terms into a search engine and generate a map on the fly of things they have searched for that are on separate maps.
Then they will “fly” through it in 3D. (See this post for some background.)
I’ll leave you with John Underkoffler, speaking at a TED conference, who before founding Oblong, “spent 15 years at MIT’s Media Laboratory, working in holography, animation and visualization techniques, and building the I/O Bulb and Luminous Room Systems.” (from his biography at ted.com). Step in at 6.30 …
Please also note that I see this page as a kind of a continuation of my post, book publishing, digital sharing and money.
this update: 6/8/11
Update 12/7/11 — For a difograph exploring this topic please see http://debategraph.org/digpubfB