For about 8 years now, there has been a focus on the ‘wisdom of crowds’ idea, which social networking applications facilitate. But after the wave of Web 2.0 idea aggregation technologies begins to subside, the doubts of the Web 2.0 sceptics (myself, to some extent, included) have been realised in a serious need for editorialisation of aggregated content. Everything from search engines to niche social networking sites now need full time editors with expertise in a field to sift through the piles of rubbish that are submitted in user-generated facilities.
In my work, one of the key aspects of our development is to consider appropriate recommendation engines, and the work of psychologists to specialised professionals is required to ensure that the value of the information our automated systems provide for our users and investors is accommodated by our products. Increasingly, however, it is the notion of the horribly named ‘Web 3.0’ – the integration of an expertise layer even over the expert-idea-laden algorithms – that is is essential to ensure the longevity of a social networking site. Perhaps this is not a profound idea – that a site about people needs useful people to be successful – but it is one which the conglomerates still don’t get. Never mind. The open source community and mentality pervading the development of quality business and personal applications will eventually make its presence felt, even to the older leading players in software development. Only this time it won’t be wisdom drawn necessarily from commercial experience, but rather wisdom based on rather old-fashioned concepts of socratic debate.