Sunday, July 16, 2006

Classifications and Terminology

Now, if any of you really know me, you'll know that I like to categorise stuff. That's how I figure stuff out - I break it down, figure out how it's like other stuff, then figure out how it's different from other stuff.

Now there is a lot of stuff on the web, and each person would like to invent new stuff, and become the next Google. But how do you categorise it, so you can know what you might do?

I'm going to start out by using mapping terms. Not geographically mapping terms - relational mapping, in terms of personal interaction ("conversations").

One To One

Classical Instant Messaging (IM) is a one to one conversation. One person (you) can instantly talk with one of your friends.


One To Many

A blog, or any web site, is a one to many conversation. One person (you) creates a blog or website. Many of your friends read (view) your website. Like IMs, you can share text, sound, pictures, and files.


Many To One

If you attach a guestbook to your website, or if your blog allows comments, you have many to one conversations. Many people enter comments about how great your website is (or how lame it is), and you read the comments. Other folks can read the comments, but they are basically addressed to you.


Many To Many

A forum is a many to many conversation. The original forums were bulletin boards (before the web), and evolved into Usenet. When the web became dominant, Usenet evolved into using web front ends, like Google Groups.

Nowadays, forums can be almost small (or large) communities, filled with your friends. One of my favourite forum communities is DSL Reports. A smaller forum is ForumFinder, and a new forum which I helped to get started (and is now dead) was Googolians. Between these, and still larger and smaller, are hundreds of others.

Online communities, like MySpace and Yahoo 360, are also many to many conversations. Online communities, though, differ in one major way - time relationship. That's a deep subject, so I'll save that for another article.

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