Monday, March 20, 2006

SPARK workshop 4

Perhaps the coolest diagram that came out of the SPARK workshop was one based on the Celtic Tree of Life.

Celtic Tree of Life

Nick Gall, who contributed to this model, explains:
This is a recursive and cyclical extension of David Clark's "hourglass" spanning layer model of the Internet. Mike Platt's group had the nice insight that the snake swallowing its tail and the mobius strip are other visual models of two seemingly separate concepts really being a unity. I suppose the Tao symbol is another one.
This is a world in which the word "user" becomes almost useless. (In some domains, the word "user" is a synonym of the word "addict".) This is a world in which consumer/producer relationships are recursive and/or fractal: by consuming we produce, and by producing we consume. mySpace (which was represented at SPARK, and also featured in today's Mix06 keynote) is a great example of this new world.

If I have a problem with the Celtic metaphor, or topological notions like Mobius strips and Klein bottles, it is the implication of closure. The diagram seems to imply a steady-state model, not one that embraces explosive growth based on network externality. mySpace is currently getting over a quarter million new users producer/consumers per day. That's a staggering illustration of the dynamics of Web 2.0.

But one model can't say everything, and the Celtic tree is still a cool model.

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