Introducing memography® and the memetic web®

October 22nd, 2005

Welcome to the memetic web. Please join the conversation about the next big tool for enterprise search, the memelink.

The hyperlink made the world-wide web possible.

Google’s tracking of the inbound hyperlinks to web pages created their PageRank® system, the technical basis for the world’s most successful search engine.

Now the memelink provides nearly perfect precision and recall for Internet and intranet search results.

Combining existing taxonomies and ontologies with the equivalent of a bibliographic “call number” for every meme, memography is a technical advance based on library science and information architecture.

As with folksonomies, anyone can add meme tags to their web content to make it part of the new memetic web. Folksonomy applications are generally limited to specific websites, like flickr and Memography is a social classification scheme that can be used throughout the web.

A folksonomy is a “bottom-up” architecture allowing users to make up arbitrary tags. Memography lets you create your own memes, but it adds the “top-down” architecture of multiple taxonomies to categorize and control the many descriptors available to add machine-readable meaning to your web pages.

A memelink is just a meme ID or tag wrapped in a hyperlink to the page on the memography wiki that describes the aboutness of the meme.

Just as an RFID tags a physical object (atoms), a meme ID tags a virtual object (bits). But you can use as many meme IDs as you like to completely describe the content.

Memography and the memetic web are licensed as creative commons.

Alpha Publicity

October 31st, 2005

In our first week, we introduced the concept of memography™ and the memetic web™ to Peter Morville, David Weinberger, and Steve Krug (October 25).

This week we sent introductory emails to a number of key individuals who influenced the development of the basic concepts.

Library Science - Marcia Bates, Kathryn La Barre, Joan Mitchell, Elaine Svenonius, Arlene Taylor.

Information Architecture - Lou Rosenfeld, Peter Merholz, Eric Reiss (IAI Board)

Information Retrieval - Stephen Levin, Mark Sanderson (ACM-SIGIR)

Knowledge Management - Tom Davenport, John Sowa, Etienne Wenger

Taxonomy - Joseph Busch (and Ron Daniels), Seth Earley

Search Engines - Stephen Arnold, Avi Rappaport

Semantic Web - Tim Berners-Lee

Content Management - Tony Byrne, Martin White

User Interface - Jared Spool (and Joshua Porter)

Technorati - Dave Sifry

First Test

November 1st, 2005

Today was our first proof of concept of memography’s 100% precision and recall.

Stephen Arnold challenged the very idea of “near perfect” recall.

Last Sunday (October 30) we had added a meme ID to three different websites, CMS Review, CMS Wiki, and skyBuilders.

We added meme ID = MEMOZIP-02138-6707, which is a unique ID for our lab and residence at 77 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA.

Here is a memelink to the aboutness page for MEMOZIP-02138.

Notice that this meme ID is a superset for all the ZIP-9 locations around Harvard Square.

Today we searched for this meme ID on Google and the search automagically returned all three pages.

At least on its first simple test, memography performed with 100% precision and recall!

Some good criticisms

November 2nd, 2005

Today we sent out advance notice to a lot more smart people and got some great feedback. (Tomorrow we will ask for discussion on the IAI mailing list.)

Bud Gibson pointed out that our meme naming scheme resembles Shelley Powers’ Tagback technique. Shelley combines a “bb” prefix for her own site (not too unique and extensible) with an adapted version of her post title, e.g, “introducingtagback.”

She includes a link to Technorati’s tag page for this tag. Something like our aboutness page for the meme? Anyway, like a shareable RDF resource URI?

Bud and others recommend we follow Tantek Çelik’s microformats principles, especially the reltag microformat.

The memetic web seems to fit basic microformat principles.
1) Design for humans first and machines second
2) Use simple open formats
3) Build on existing and widely adopted standards.

Memography is very simple. And it uses today’s search engines as is.

The microformat rel=”tag” attribute added to a hyperlink provides metadata that the page, or blog post, is about whatever is described on the page linked to. (The example used is a technorati page.)

Thus it is comparable to our memelink, which points to the meme’s aboutness page on the memography wiki.

Lou Rosenfeld asks how this will look from a users perspective. I know the complex meme ID’s are off-putting, trying to find a public one to share is a massive UI problem, and the delay between embedding it and getting crawled by the robots may be unacceptably long for pages with low rank.

We need a mechanism for people to easily make their own meme IDs.

A memespace prefix can be built by inverting your domain name, thus Shelley Powers owns MEMO.COM.BURNINGBIRD, which won’t conflict with other memespaces, as her “bb” is bound to do.

Thomas Vander Wal notes that Trackback might have accomplished something like this but for its spam problems. Popular memelinks will no doubt be spammed. Will it help that a memelink is on an identifiable web page?

Thomas points out that mis-tagging and rapid evolution of popular memes will reduce precision and recall pretty quickly. The hope is that results will remain good for relatively stable and specialized memes and ones that are kept relatively private (inside intranets, for example).

More announcements

November 6th, 2005

Over the weekend we sent emails to list serves for a number of organizations with an obvious potential interest in the Memetic Web:

Peter Morville’s blog

November 5th, 2005

On Friday, Peter Morville blogged about the Memetic Web.

He is right to be concerned about meme ID spamming.

We have a couple of proposed solutions to the spamming problem and will post them soon to the Memography wiki.

Lou Rosenfeld’s Bloug

November 8th, 2005

In today’s Bloug, Lou says we should introduce the memetic web concept to search vendors. That will be our next step.

He cleverly notes that they could tap into the memespaces by recognizing an area code (or some other existing taxonomy like ISBN) and then prepending the memespace identifier, when they know it.

Our simple proposal for ISBN is just MEMOISBN-0596000359. This is the meme ID for the Polar Bear book (Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, by Lou and Peter).

See the memespaces page for others.

Search engines will also be key players in the control of meme ID spamming.

Any good contacts to recommend at Google et al.?

Relevence of Misspellings

November 14th, 2005

We’ve all noticed how Google will fix our misspellings, with their synonyms list suggesting the more likely search term - Did you mean Relevance?

When the misspelling is so bad it’s not in Google’s synonym rings, we have entered the huge space of random strings that are not in use anywhere (that is the future home for our meme IDs).

Companies have long tried to find misspellings that could become new brands, and the limited lexical space of domains has increased the pressure to misspell. Flickr is perhaps the best known Folksonomy site.

Peter Morville told us that Ross Mayfield of SocialText coined the misspelling indicatr to tag photos of corporate parking lots (a diagnostic tool to detect periods of intense R&D at the company).

And RSA Security, encryption and digital signature specialists, have an authentication product they call securID (nice play on security). At Jakob Nielsen’s User Expreince 2005 conference, Peter Morville pointed out that if you search the RSA site for secureID (note the extra “e”), hardly any results come back. When you misspell it correctly, hundreds of pages are found.

The amazing thing is Google’s synonym list, apparently with the preferred term being rated by their PageRank® algorithms. They ask - Did you mean SecurID? As Peter said, Google knows more about RSA’s business than RSA’s own search engine does.

David Weinberger on Metadata

November 17th, 2005

“Crunching the Metadata” is an article in the November 13 Boston Globe that describes the need for new - and unique - identifiers that we can use to tag books of the future (and of course the entire contents of the web). Is he thinking of meme IDs?

David says ” we’ll need two things.”

“First, we’ll need what are known as unique identifiers-such as the call letters stamped on the spines of library books. ”

“Second, we’re going to need massive collections of metadata about each book. Some of this metadata will come from the publishers. But much of it will come from users…”

David seems to agree with our theme that “we all are librarians now” when he says “Using metadata to assemble ideas and content from multiple sources, online readers become not passive recipients of bound ideas but active librarians, reviewers, anthologists, editors, commentators, even (re)publishers.”

David Bigwood (on his Catalogablog) says that Weinberger confuses classification with identification. Bigwood realizes multiple meme IDs will be needed to tag content fully.

More on UIDs from Joho the Blog

December 7th, 2005

David Weinberger is arguing strongly for unique IDs.

His latest post to JoHO argues that Web 2.0 and tagging will give way to the Year of the Unique ID.

Several comments are apropos of memography.

“When you have a large pile of stuff, you need a way to identify it. The more meaningful the names, the worse they scale. ”

“We could wait for authorities in each domain to issue the numbers, but we’ll make more progress faster if we accept that multiple interest groups within a particular domain are going to issue UIDs.”

“Why UIDs will be big and what they’ll look like”

“UIDs are going to be important because they enable people and systems to agree on what they’re talking about. Thus can systems interoperate and new applications can be built pulling together information and concepts from their digital diaspora. ”

“UIDs allows the sort of specificity that computers love. For example, when the person at the cash register (who well might be our daughter Leah, so be nice to her!) wands your groceries, the cash register knows exactly what you’re buying. But some items don’t come wrapped with neat little UPC’s printed on them. The canonical example is a book. ”

We have prepared a couple of printable (Word format) flyers to describe the memography and memetic web concepts.


Please print them out and give them to your colleagues.