November 28, 2001
8:36 AM   Subscribe

"The Web, left to its own devices, would be the exact opposite of that: It's like a giant city with no neighborhoods; it needs these kind of meta-filters, these second-level kind of things, whether it is Yahoo or Google or Slashdot, to rein in that chaos and turn it to something more organized." From the second page of an interview with the author of Emergence, Steven Johnson (also co-founder of Feed).
posted by adrianhon (10 comments total)
i wonder what a meta-filter would look like. such a mythical creature....

rein in that chaos
posted by th3ph17 at 8:49 AM on November 28, 2001

Wow! This is like when people started using the term Xeroxes to refer to any mimeograph copying. Only, Matt didn't even get to turn into a big behemoth company before metafilter became a household word. Xerox got a bit upset by that, cuz it's not good for brand name recognition when someone uses the word but settles for any company that offers the same good or service.

There's a word for that isn't there? Like how in some parts of America, people use the word "coke" to refer to most any soft drink? When a brand name loses its individuality? The word "bikini" used to be brand specific, but nowadays it refers to most any two-piece that fits the definition. What's the word for that? It's on the tip of my tongue..
posted by ZachsMind at 8:59 AM on November 28, 2001

It's possible that Johnson actually intended 'MetaFilters' but the reporter transcribed it as 'meta-filters'. Either way, imagine some VC reading this and thinking 'Yes! Meta-filters! This could be the next P2P!', then dashing to his keyboard, checking domain name availability and going 'nooooohhhhhh!'
posted by rory at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2001

Proprietary Eponyms? Or the catchier genericide?
posted by gleuschk at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2001

The word "bikini" used to be brand specific

Actually, it used to be place-specific. But interestingly, becoming a generic term for a particular kind of online service wouldn't be nearly as problematic as it would be for a 'real' product like, say, escalators (once the trademark of The Escalator Company, RIP), because generic words are highly sought-after domain names. If the term catches on Matt could auction off the domain and clean up big time. And we could all relocate to
posted by rory at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2001

He went on to say:

"What we need is some kind of moronic asshole to make stupid comments and sort of Hildagoize this 'meta filter'."
posted by Hildago at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2001

here ya go, th3ph17

METAFILTER filters are used for photographic chemistry in the most widely sold minilabs:

The sintered moulded filter is preferred by demanding customers because of its durability and dimensional stability. We have also opted for this type of filter wich offers the user high particle holding capacity and easier manipulation than any other filter.

posted by otherchaz at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2001

I don't entirely buy his argument about the web. It seems to be true for most professional websites, for now. That is, big corporations don't link to each other, and their sites are mostly isolated -- you need a Yahoo or a Google to find them.

But the six-degrees-of-Koffke (I don't want to invoke His true name here) idea, among others, demonstrates that personal and independent websites are truly web-like. And MetaFilter and MemePool and LinkLust might possibly be emergent elements of that type of web: Given that the people who publish on the web are interested in other websites, and interested in each other, it makes sense that they might get together in this type of format to share information about things they like and find interesting. Sharing information about the web is a local behavior, but I think if it happens enough something MetaFilter-like is quite likely to emerge; if no one set it up explicitly as such, I imagine a blog or two might evolve in that direction, with people using it not just for the original author's input, but for each other's.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:55 AM on November 28, 2001

Shouldn't this be a MetaTalk thread?

Shouldn't there be a MetaMetaTalk page for discussing that question?
posted by straight at 10:04 AM on November 28, 2001

And we could all relocate to

Funniest thing today.
posted by jragon at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2001

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