It’s true that often the blogosphere can seem like an echo chamber. But I kind of think of it like junk mail. When a catalog comes in the mail that I like it’s no longer junk mail, it’s something interesting and valued. So while the discussion on the net may often seem like echoes, when it’s something I care about, it’s an interesting conversation (at least to me).
Here at Jackson Fish Market we’re in existence to create software/web services funded by advertisers. This is an embryonic category which we believe will eventually dominate the landscape. Social Signal is already pioneering in this space, building communities for “public-facing organizations”. We can only hope to follow in their footsteps. Rob from Social Signal posted his reaction to our discussion of their work. When I referred to VanCity in my post, it was really Social Signal putting the site together. I feel like we have a kernel of a movement around advertiser-funded software here on the west coast with Social Signal just up the coast from Seattle in Vancouver, BC. I think it’s safe to say that we can add Social Signal to our list of companies we admire.
In the meantime, our own tiny test at creating community has had modest success. Check out the latest contributions over at Words of a Man’s Mouth. The coolest contribution by far is on page 18. Essentially, Roger Shi has posted describing one of the people who signed the autograph book. To recap: This book was signed by a student’s frends upon graduating from school around 1940. Sixty-five years later I found the book for sale in a store in Hong Kong. Sixty-seven years later, we posted the book online, and within 3 weeks have already connected with someone who wrote in the book all those years ago. Words of a Man’s Mouth took us a couple of days to put together. There’s no doubt it could bear tons of improvement, but even in this basic form it’s already generating very cool results. I’m hoping that Roger can put us in touch with C.J. Wang who might be able to then connect us with other classmates who wrote in the book or possibly even the book’s original owner. Now that would be cool!
It’s been a few days now since we posted Words of a Man’s Mouth. Tons of folks have visited (averaging over 1000 a day) thanks to help from kottke.org, retecool.com (in Dutch, and in the comments they wonder if it’s a hoax – it’s not), and now one of the USAToday.com blogs.
What’s cool about all the traffic is that people have started to translate the book. Particularly neat tidbits include:
Take a peek if you have a moment. Even though it’s a tiny effort it’s interesting to watch both how excitement propagates across the internet, what that excitment translates to in terms of traffic, and how a small percentage of the community gets together to make the site into something even more interesting (via translations and comments).
Though our focus is on our main projects, getting them established, up and running, etc., from time to time we’ll have excess energy for additional creative pursuits. And the internet is a pretty broad canvas on which to exercise that creativity. It’s not an unfamiliar concept to have a small place for experimentation, and ours is called the Jackson Fish Market Test Kitchen. Our first Test Kitchen effort follows.
“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”
This quote is the opening for the small book described below. In December of 2005 an autograph book was found at a used knicknack store in Hong Kong’s central district and purchased for 380 Hong Kong dollars. The identity of the book’s original owner is a mystery. The stories the book reveals are hidden in plain sight. Aside from a few quotation in English, the bulk of the entries are in Chinese. Tiny pictures of men dot the pages of the book. The Chinese characters start in earnest on the seventh page. They are also the first words that appear to be written by the book’s owner:
“Four days living on the Canton ship [Canton Ho is the name of the ship]. It was cold and hot, crowded. A memorable experience. Heart and mind are together.”
These are the only words we have translated. The rest is up to you. You are invited to browse the pages, comment on the imagery, and if you’re able, translate the Chinese characters into English. Perhaps together we can discover (or perhaps imagine) the story behind the owner of this almost lost journal.