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Creating a Future Portal


(Michael Hrenka) #1

It seems like there isn’t any real future related portal out there that really collects all the different future related pages, blogs, communities, groups, organizations, networks, and so on. I want to have such a portal on the Fractal Future Network, and I think the Fractal Future Wiki would be the right place for that, but I’m not sure how it should be structured. Any ideas? How would you like a really good future portal to look like?

David Brin has recently written an IEET post that contains a lot of good links. This could be the basis of a future portal.


Fractal decision making platform
(Macius Szczur) #2

Hey :wink: Some time ago I considered the same question, and it seems that simple structure with a twist could be the answer.

  1. Simple structure. Generally it seems that main categories are:
    a) People (networks, organizations, clans, cults),
    b) Ideas (theoretical “it would be cool to have a flying car”),
    c) ideas that people try to implement: Projects (“let’s build a flying car!”),
    d) documentation and whitepapers on how ideas can be implemented.

Most of the links I saw can be pinned to one of the above four categories. However, most of the links I saw can also be connected to the remaining 3 categories, albeit with “softer” links :smile:

That makes catalogue-like structure with further divisions, which is going to create a usual tree structure that over time will become unmanageable and bloated, with overlaps and gaps, and making it difficult to find any useful information inside. That’s inevitable, and probably there is some math formula describing it… if not, there should be :smile: Therefore, the second part is the…

  1. Twist: some sort of automated matching/comparing facility linking relevant items together. Similar projects, similar ideas… If I have a new idea and want to implement it, the website should tell me if something like that already exists or not, without me having to perform extensive search. For example, Google algoritms are great and their search engine produces good results, but what is required here is something more than search… It is something linking together all items in all four categories. In usual static tree of information you either go from main trunk to specific branches (if the tree is small, that’s prefectly fine) or use some search mechanism to find keywords on subpages that may or may not be what you’re looking for… In different words, as I’m nor sure if I’m making myself clear, I’d like to be able to pick any item and use it as “main trunk”, to see everything else as branches growing out of it, grouped/sorted by relevance, similarity, proximity…

My $0.03 :smile:

M.

  1. Twist

(Michael Hrenka) #3

Thanks for posting once again, Macius! :smiley: Great to see your input here! :smile:

Yeah, that looks like a generally reasonable main structure. But I’d like to add “platforms and tools” here, since they are not necessarily the same as networks and other stuff. Though, they could be categorized as projects. Anyway, this structure probably contains a lot of overlap.

Therefore, I think the best way to handle this complexity is to use some kind of tagging system, which would enable all the annoying issues with trying to fit everything into a tree structure.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated to use a tag based system with conventional online tools. But perhaps it’s still reasonably doable.

What are “softer” links? :open_mouth:

Oh no, you want artificial intelligence! :smiley: Well, it would be kinda cool to have something like that and a lot of problems really come down to using artificial intelligence in the right way, eventually. But that would mean that we need to make some kind of actual web app instead of using a simple wiki to make a usable futurist resource base. Eventually, I’d certainly want to have such an app, but I think we would be able to capture a lot of value simply by having some kind of wiki that provides a decent overview over many futurist organizations and projects.

That would certainly be very cool, but I imagine programming something like that requires quite a bit of effort. But maybe there’s already some kind of open source solution out there that does things in the way you are imagining. I guess you would be more adapt at finding something like that, since it’s your idea and you seem to have a clearer idea of where you want to go than I do.


(Macius Szczur) #4

Yes, “platforms and tools” seem like they deserve main category - People implement ideas as Projects using Tools and Documentation. Makes sense :smile:

Tagging and what I called “soft links” are similar yet slightly different approaches. By “soft links” I describe relations between items that are connected, but not as directly as tree node->node->node - item can be a leaf, assigned directly, hardlinked so to speak, but be also connected loosely to another, simllar leaf… hardlink is “assigned”, softlink is “related to”. Something like that :smile:
Tags are like explicit auxiliary structure imposed on a tree… very useful one too, making it easier to browse through items related to the same tag, but assigned to different tree branches. Definitely worth implementing.

It would start as simple catalogue and hopefully grow into an app. Gathering data (links and everything) should beging es soon as possible, and the rest… will follow :smile:


(Michael Hrenka) #5

More material for adding to the Future Portal:

http://the-future.wikidot.com/organisations

It seems like some guys actually went ahead and started a Future Portal on their own about 6 years ago. It seems like they couldn’t get any kind of serious popularity. Interesting, but not surprising.


(Michael Hrenka) #6

It looks like more than anything else, what a really good future portal project needs is a person who accepts it at his mission to create such a thing and to keep it up-to-date. Making it wiki-based, so that people can add their pages freely makes a lot of sense to be able to include the whole futurist community, but that crowd generation only works nicely if there is somebody to maintain the site.

If we want a real future portal site, we need a really dedicated person who makes it happen. Otherwise it either won’t happen, or it will fall into inactivity and obscurity, as has happened with the site http://the-future.wikidot.com.

What I can offer is the underlying basis for such a portal: Setting up the wiki and adding the leader as admin. I would grant the leader of this project full freedom about how to set up this future portal (within wide boundaries of reason).

Perhaps what we also need is some kind of good technological basis for this. What I would want to use is some kind of wiki-like platform that is only structured by tags. Tags can be added by anyone and people can vote tags up and down. The most popular tags will be displayed most prominently in the navigation. Is there something like that? Can anyone build it? If someone actually builds it, the technology would be useful for other applications, I think.


#7

It would look organised and filtered. Perhaps a first suggestion towards a similar goal would be to have existing data and content more sorted here (if more sorted is possible). This can be seen as a type of ‘house cleaning’ and perhaps increase in accuracy of existing data.
External stuff maybe later as we can surf and filter ourselves for now (and will do in the meantime) so it’s not so much of a priority here unless we want to decide something using someone’s research and people add to it. I feel it’s good to do and what other sites might like when referencing our own pages on this site (cutting the parts they don’t want before they visit).

We could add external references as we go too, I suppose, by keeping focused on why we’re researching it at the time.

What seems to trump doing a Wiki now is to working on more-relative data here which we have all personally contributed to (and perhaps came here to clarify) rather than eventual limits of simply increasing our own on-line time and traffics without keeping focus. We could have more focus / dedication / potential towards users answering things concisely AND doing it themselves whilst having a reason why we are talking / research it. Might be more admin more work :slight_smile: or might be more focused so admin can string it all together for a best of type thing.
I think directly what is already happening can always be clearer - but let me know if what I’ve said is already happening. For example: shortening / moving of topics / Re-focusing people etc…

Overall I see content counting for a bit more after it’s ‘sorted’ / cut from the ‘other stuff’ and people really need help with that (or again reach limits). Especially later when things might not be wanted or appreciated as much in a topic and new people finding the topic looking to add value will also appreciate it. Cutting or having a highlights may not be bad and the original or archive version could still exist or even be the default version visible (or not) for those that want to read and see how the thread went in either format. Right now maybe the topic comments aren’t long enough (I’m reading the whole forum so this is part of why I say it… and glad there’s not more in some way because I’m not sure I’d know what to do / practice with it!)

I think that can be true though following a little from the above, lots of people making a shorter version might be good idea and ties nicely with what they are working on or have worked on… :slight_smile:
I have kind of done a lot already as I’m sure most of you have - mine for example were the recommendations for Portable Applications (dictionaries) and Google Analytics negative points (conflicting party politics regardless of corporate positives).
My examples below:

  • Dictionary software - I made and edited software list + my experience + links
  • Analytics for this site (link 1, link 2, etc)… Just a list of For and Against (quoted from topics into another topic perhaps) with the links in 1 organised paragraph might be good. Something to avoid people spreading it too much or seeing it again. I’m searching for duplicate posts now…

Parts could be highlighted and then in another mode show another version of the existing topic without deleting data, but effectively shortening it by showing highlighted only parts. Links are often all over the place and random on the page so could be put in one paragraph like I’ve done here or achieve by highlighting.

Maybe these organised / highlighted parts in could be considered a kind of Wiki type thing already or could be “a once and for all” type topic on this site (which has it’s own objectives and policy) since both often externally reference pages and (most importantly) relate to what we are thinking about doing / wanting to do / or are personally doing on and off this site…


(Michael Hrenka) #8

Your suggestions are interesting, but not very clear.

I think we need to come up with a clear structure, so that we can enter information into the right (wiki)threads without making everything look terribly messy and cluttered. We might also want to minimize duplicate content. And it shouldn’t be too hard for users to find the most appropriate place to enter the information they want to curate in this forum.

That is quite a challenge, I think. Does anyone have a starting proposal? I mean, we start with the

but that may need a lot of improvement.


#9

I should put a disclaimer on each comment :slight_smile: I don’t claim things to be too clear and it’s work in progress… What I write is the best I can do right now… What you can take, I hope you can make some of the points your own in some way, and push however it makes sense to you.