Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Apr 5, 2005 8:26pm

unilateral collaboration

The Christian Science Monitor had an article about website spinoffs by Jim Regan yesterday:

As private and commercial Web portals begin to invite outside involvement and experimentation, new sites are being launched which, rather than offer any unique material of their own, offer an alternative method of viewing someone else's material. Some are practical, some merely recreational, but all are examples of yet another evolution of the web - the 'unilateral collaboration.'

"Unilateral collaboration," what a gem!

It's nice umbrella term for a lot of current ideas:

  • The theme of e-tech this year was "Remix," which played itself out in sessions devoted to the theme of working with others' raw materials. There was the web services mashup presentations by Alan, Cal and Erik, as well as sessions on modifying hardware or biological materials. The fact that the CSM is catching on is a sure sign that these kinds of meta-services are real.
  • Technological enablers for unilateral collaboration are being embraced by owners of data. Yahoo! now has a robust API available, and firms like E-Bay make a large percentage of their money through their web services interface. The physical metaphor I have for this in my head is less about transparency, and more about porousness. It would be lovely to see this approach spread to other domains, such as government. A complete web-based API to government information would be a dream.
  • Legal enablers are gaining some street cred as well. The GPL has worked for years, and Creative Commons licenses are establishing legal ground for copyright-enforced openness in the creative world. Supreme Court Justice O'Connor says "The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but `[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.' To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art."
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