Our focus at index.as is on prioritizing context in the fragmented digital world with the help of curation, which provides maps and useful directions. With this article, we aim to explain whys and hows of reorganizing information in a decentralized world through human curation.
📍Part #1: Information abundance: Is it the real issue?
📍Part #2: What is preventing curation from escalating?
📍Part #3: index.as: The human bridge between context and content
1- The internet is messy, chaotic, and fragmented like never before.
2- Information organization is highly underrated.
3- We need to stop putting the blame on "the information abundance"
There is nothing wrong with information abundance. It is the natural consequence of the exponential increase in channels that we create and receive information. We cannot and should not prevent people from creating content.
The problem is that people cannot find the right information or they can't be sure whether the information exists as it isn't organized well. As Clay Shirky's stated,"It's not information overload. It's a filter failure.’
The web lacks filters, maps, and directions that include human sophistication.
🏷 Why context matters?
Considering how knowledge is created alongside its nature, we can see that each context delivers its own content. It is easier to understand information when it is analyzed in a context. Therefore, meaning and context are interdependent. Meaning cannot be communicated without context, and context cannot be established without meaning. Information becomes meaningless in the absence of context, as a result of which it becomes data requiring additional interpretation from humans. This is the problem we are experiencing right now with information organization: The scarcity of context, rather than information abundance.
We can find the reason behind the problem by looking at the business plans of social media platforms. They develop algorithms that either keep users on the platform longer or persuade them to purchase. In such algorithms, 'words' function as price tags rather than means of definition and explanation. Context becomes irrelevant in an environment where definitions, explanations, and meanings are secondary. That's why we feel there is content everywhere. In fact, there are fragmented contents separated from their context everywhere. With the web atomized like this, context becomes increasingly important to navigate through the internet.
As humans, we are driven to connect the dots and discover micro universes of atoms. Let's take a look at an example from our daily lives: We're constantly surrounded by details; nevertheless, we usually don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we receive. We are able to organize so much information because we categorize it through tastes, emotions, and motivations. Intention, intuition, emotion, feeling, and taste are all parts of the context. In this way, we stay motivated to discover more with a clear mindset. Just like this, we need tools to transfer how we understand and analyze the world through the human lens to the web.
🔎 In search of 'discovery'
Web navigation tools of today are unnatural and inauthentic to trust due to SEO spamming and algorithms that prioritize the marketing objectives of brands. The system tends to classify and generalize human needs and motivations using the so-called term 'personalization' rather than responding to human complexity. The funny thing is there are billions of pieces of information reflecting millions of perspectives and tastes, yet the system categorizes the users according to consumption behaviors instead of these tastes. Digital consumption and usage behaviors are considered to reflect our unique characteristics. As complex beings, we are so much more than our age, sex, marital status, and phone model.
It is also problematic that the goal is to keep users within the same platform rather than facilitating cross-platform discovery. That's why we experience the web through one dimension and feel like it is just a bunch of platforms. In fact, it is a huge world yet to be discovered. We're just stuck between platforms.
As a result, we felt trapped by the same and/or irrelevant results and content instead of discovering things according to our interests. It is no longer possible to run across the things we are really curious about. It is a far more important issue than information abundance, we believe.
Besides, it is difficult to discover without context. Developed to meet the needs of centralized media platforms, algorithms limit our options of discovery. As a result, we discover the things they can/want to show us. That's why we all spend so much time trying to find something worthwhile. Web3 will erode the platform monopolies, but the non-discovery is still a problem. And we can solve this problem by mapping the web with context. The web should serve the people with the help of people.
In part 2, we'll explore how the web can be mapped in a decentralized environment with the help of humans.
We believe that the ontology of information, which is scattered and fragmented, holds the key to solutions. Information should be organized in the same way it is created. It should remain fragmented, but bundled. Bundling the information will help us to create maps and make the web discoverable.
The approach we should adopt is to collaborate with the decentralized meaning holders. These are people who feel responsible or productive themselves to organize or contribute information: the creators, curators, interpreters, essay writers, indexers, and context-priotizers. All we need is curation and collaboration. But, here is the question:
Let's put curation aside for a minute. If you want something to work and improve, you need to finance it by contributing to it on different levels while giving it autonomy. This is the case for everything. And all three of these are lacking in contemporary curating efforts.
There are no native monetization methods.
A limited amount of contribution is visible. It is rare to find niche curating.
Curation is not recognized as a standalone/independent form.
There is a great article by Li Jin and Katie Parrot, "The Web3 Renaissance: A Golden Age for Content". It explains the problems with monetization on the web2 and how Web3 solves the issue with the emergence of creator economies.
''The lack of payment infrastructure is the reason why so much of the internet is monetized via advertising.
... Creators are compelled to seek the broadest possible audiences and to create content that attracts advertisers. This business model—or lack thereof—has a profound impact on which creators can make a living and what they create (incentivizing viral, attention-grabbing, and aspirational content, while disincentivizing niche, in-depth content). The biggest impact of the web2 internet may be the creators who don’t exist and the creations that were never made because they have no viable business model.''
Let's analyze the situation in detail: It is possible to curate songs, create boards and make lists on the web; however, there are no options to monetize it. But your time, taste, and effort should be monetized no matter who you are. Otherwise, we will continue to be surrounded by financed content of media gatekeepers. Niche content and underrepresented creators and curators will remain unnoticed while influencers supported by mediocre media powers will continue to rise unless monetization options are democratized. Just imagine how journalism and niche content could thrive if monetization tools were decentralized.
Moreover, we can only find large-scale curations on the web. If the curation reaches millions of likes and/or shares, then it becomes visible. We hit the issue of media gatekeepers and discovery again.
As we talk about the creator economy, we must say it is time to boost the curator economy as well. In the decentralized world, curators will be the information organizers. We need to encourage monetization at any size if we want to map the web and make it discoverable. In part 3, we will explain in detail how we can map the web through curation, but until then, ‘intertextuality’ can serve as a hint.
‘‘Curation, in a sense, is its own form of intertextuality, or the shaping of a text’s meaning by another text. Content doesn’t exist on the Internet in a vacuum: it takes up space, and it forms a web of influence and connections.’
It is essential to collaborate and monetize in order to create quality content, and to remap the web in a new direction. It is so wonderful to see that Web3 is actually the answer we're looking for to solve the issue at hand. The decentralized environment allows everyone on the web to create and offer their own models of collaboration and monetization that we can have endless possibilities.
The third challenge that prevents curation from working is the lack of autonomy. Curation is not recognized as an independent, stand-alone form which is why we cannot reuse, discover, or interact with it. While there are great examples today, it's still confined to platforms like GitHub, Airtables, Notion, and Startupy. However, what Sari Azout does with Startupy and how she contributes to the curator economy are remarkable. It is so inspiring to witness the way curation saves the web.
What we do as index.as is basically making the web discoverable through context with the help of humans. Let's talk about how and why we do this, since we have our reasons. Here we go!
🛠 What does index.as offer?
We developed index.as for Web3 as a format-agnostic curation tool that is collaborative, searchable, and monetizable. Now, we will explain the reasons why index.as is monetizable, collaborative, format-agnostic, and searchable.
It is monetizable as we need to incentivize curators in a sustainable way, so that the curator economy can thrive. In order to lead discovery in search of quality content, decentralization requires bundling. Through a simple interface, index.as allows all curators to monetize their indexes independently, based on their conditions.
It is collaborative as we need curation at all levels to re-organize information from two-person projects up to DAO-scale. Naturally, index.as supports individual use. So, you can keep your indexes to yourself or share them with others. Before designing a collaboration structure, we thought a lot about how to avoid killing it since we believe user experience is key. Additionally, we think user experience and design will solve almost all issues related to Web3 and mass adoption, but let's leave it for another time.
Handling the monetization and collaboration with a Web3 native approach, we enabled composable access control options. As a part of our native approach, we useLit Protocol's decentralized access control system so that curators have full control over their content. Lit Protocol allows curators to specify on-chain criteria such as "user must hold an NFT" and the network provides signatures and decryption keys to those that meet those criteria. Some on-chain conditions are as follows:
User is a member of a DAO
User holds an NFT in a collection
User holds at least 0.1 ETH
The result of any smart contract function call
User owns a specific wallet address
Using boolean operations (AND + OR) for any of the above
By composing any of these conditions, curators will be able to grant access to anyone. Collaboration on this scale opens up a lot of possibilities for organizing information in a new and powerful way.
index.as is format-agnostic, because any format can be used to define or detail context/topic: articles, NFTs, photographs, documents, songs, videos, tweets, etc. Creating rich content universes will be possible with any type of content. Soon, index.as will support semantically described content types such as person, company, event, place, etc.
And, it is searchable. Anyone who is interested or in need of any information can search these indexes. For this, index.as offers advanced filtering options so that each curation can function as a search engine. In other words, you can filter the indexes based on date, type, or any tag. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage discoveries driven by tastes and expand the world of context.
🧵 Now, let's take a look at how index.as works:
🪡 Each index creates a content universe around the topic you like. Basically, you become the context curator. That's why we like to say "Index how you see, read, and understand the world."
🪡 Through intertextuality, each index creates a contextual map according to human tastes and motivations: maps reflecting human complexity.
🪡 As indexes are searchable, and filterable, they act as niche, topic based search engines.
🪡 We welcome you to the web, which consists of hand-picked, curated content designed to pique curiosity and lead the way to discovery.
Our use of Ceramic Network enables data interoperability and composability, which support ownership: the ability to use your indexes across different contexts, organizations, and applications. Since Ceramic uses IPFS, all indexes are stored on a decentralized network. It gives users the ability to create, own, and store their own data without having to trust a third party. Thank you Web3.
🧨 Change the way you use the Web
index.as gives us a way to change and improve our relationship with the internet. It might be an ambitious target, but that's how it is supposed to be.
By providing curators a tool to enable monetization, we will be able to reorganize information through contexts while also giving them the recognition they deserve. And, it is exciting to make Web3 discoverable.
When it comes to users, they will be able to find quality content that can make their discoveries worthwhile. Not to mention that it saves both energy and time.
It's time to reclaim the web.
Additionally, index.as will always be a work in progress. So, any feedback, and even a 'hi' is greatly appreciated. We would love to build it together.
Where the magic will happen: https://index.as