Oh, no, not another fad, surely? It could actually be, but with a twist:
I am sure that the majority of Internet users have interacted with forums, at least, most in Bahrain have, as those sites are the most popular in the island for various reasons, maybe the most important of which is the ability to start a “topic” and then let it run its course… But, if you are a forum user, you will have realised very quickly that people tend to go on tangents very quickly, which makes the forum lose its appeal very quickly, not to mention its relevance.
How would you bring people on-topic again? And does it really matter? The only time that it does matter really is when a researcher or a user actually does a search to find out what people’s ideas are about a topic, but even then, within a stream of a single topic, many others branch out of it to the point of no return.
As an admin, I too suffer from this, but most of the time just opt to leave those errant comments be, but the perfectionist in me will always itch to put everything in their right places… enter Web2.0!
Yes, one of the things that Web2.0 hype is all about is using the next generation of tools to make the web more interactive and a better experience, and to me, one of the best ways in doing so is giving people the information they are looking for in an easy to comprehend and use way. One of the best ways of doing so, as has been seen by the likes of Technorati and many of its clones, is tagging. Attaching a defined set of keywords to information to make that information much easier to retrieve.
Now, attach that principle to forums! It doesn’t matter now if a conversation or post goes off at a million tangents, just get people to tag their own post and then anyone interested in a topic, would enter the keyword and the information sought is simply presented!
Brilliant isn’t it? Well, John Cox, the father of PostNuke, and subsequently Xaraya, two content management platforms I was heavily involved in and tremendously enjoyed my time with both platforms, has brought out a simple Xaraya module to do just that. A forum on steroids that adapts the idea of tags and takes them to the next level. His creation, com.pendio.us is a site that must be seen if you are at all interested in not only web trends, but also in knowledge management. True, as John puts it, he started the project as a lark and for a laugh, but looking around at his system, I think he stumbled on something very worthwhile.
In John Cox’s words:
com.pendio.us is a bit of satire on the Web 2.0 fad. I decided to bastardize web forums into something so unrecognizable, that I could slap a .us domain that made a word, throw a gradient on the top, and have a white background and call it a modern forum. It’s fun to be quirky sometimes.
Unlike most web forums, there is absolutely no category structure on this site. Whatever you want to talk about is A-OK by my. Conversations (the name of the module) has quite a few of the features that you see on most forums today minus the constraints of categories. Good for the users, but probably bad for the site admin’s.
John my friend, if you’re going to copyright this, can you open up shares for old friends to acquire too?!
Check it out guys, com.pendio.us might just well be a Web3.0 technology, let alone 2.0!