ThirdVoice (ThoughtStorms)

Self-indulgent aside

Remember all that self-congratulatory crap about what great insight I have? (TrendPredictions)

Well, rather than continuously harp on about my successes I often try to remind myself and others of my failures. For the last few years, whenever people accuse me of always being right, I've had a standard answer : "ThirdVoice".

Back in the late 90s, before I even knew about blogs or wikis - because I really didn't know very much - I would rant to anyone prepared to listen, that ThirdVoice was the future of the internet. Basically, ThirdVoice let anyone store annotations to any web-page on a central server, so others could come and read them.

Over night, the home-pages of MicroSoft and IBM were scrawled with anti-MS / IBM rants and pr0n adverts. Owners of pages started a campaign against the service. But the integration was "AtTheGlass". People annotating and viewing the service were consenting participants. They didn't touch Microsoft's own server or files.

I was excited because ThirdVoice seemed a genuinely two-way communication medium. It was, I thought, the democratization of the web. It turned pages from being one-way communication channels imposed on us, to being public space.

Interestingly, it was also an early explicit example of the principle of AddressableThings. (Turning someone else's page into the thing) And a good examplifier of the worst aspects of anything goes, everyone can write on it, but no one can edit or fix it, badness. (See CreatingCommunities) It was a grafiticists dream. Pages were entirely plastered with derogatory comments and adverts but no interesting communication.

I'm pretty sure they were wiped out in the crash. (Actually And,1367,42803,00.html) And) I had a great counter-example to all those people who thought I just jumped on succesful bandwagons.

But suddenly, in 2005, user annotation is hot again :

Sorry, I meant, in 2015 user annotation is hot again.

Or maybe 2016 it was controversial :