Last weekend I read Christian Crumlish’s The Power of Many: How the Living Web is Transforming Politics, Business, and Everyday Life. Instead of learning any major revelations, I mostly discovered just how much of a geek I have become, but luckily I know who to blame.
While I wonâ€™t say much about the content of the book (It provides an entry-level summary of what Crumlish defines as the â€œliving webâ€? â€” innovative applications that fully utilize the webâ€™s unique power to allow users to interact and contribute information. He discusses Meetup, Upcoming, Flickr, and blogs in general. Interesting, thereâ€™s not much here about online citizen journalism, for that see Dan Gillmoreâ€™s We The Media. Crumlish is an unapologetic Deaniac and draws heavily of the successes of the Howard Dean presidential campaign to briefly achieve front runner status by using the web to mobilize volunteers and raise money.), I will say that one of the most interesting parts is exactly how much the book shows its age in just over one year. (It was published September 28, 2004) Most notably in the last year MySpace, Upcoming, and Flickr have all been purchased, and Crumlishâ€™s â€œLiving Webâ€? has been at the core of another internet goldrush. Also, his commentary about social networking talks a lot about Orkut, a social network started by a Google engineer that had lots of buzz in 2004, but doesnâ€™t mention current powerhouses MySpace and TheFaceBook, due no doubt in part to those servicesâ€™ meteoric growth in the past year.
Alas, such is the nature of writing a book about cutting edge technology. It turns out that Crumlish is still maintaining the book website over at ThePowerOfMany.com, where most recently he posted about being sought out as an expert on Wikipedia for a segment on Canadian TV about the recent scandal about a Wikipedia prank gone awry. Should you read it? Only if you want to feel like you’re back in September 2004, or you’d like someone to explain to you the significance of RSS.