Some interesting recent articles on Web 2.0 and Publishing:

EmTech inanity
Ever since Dan Lyons abandoned his Fake Steve Jobs persona, his blog has gone way downhill (and his Newsweek articles have been generally lame as well). But when he fires on all cylinders, he can still put out some of the funniest, most scathing commentary you’ll find on the tech industry. Here he reviews a conference panel of some of the biggest names in Web 2.0 and really nails the failings of so many of these tools, particularly those launched for scientists: they’re solutions in search of problems:

“If I were funding these guys I might go home scratching my head about what those kids are doing with all of my millions. Maybe there is a point to what they’re doing, but honestly, what great problem are these companies trying to solve? Sitting there watching this spectacle — watching these guys unable to simply explain what they do and and how they are going to make a business out of it – it was staggering to think that someone has entrusted these people with very large sums of money.”

Lyons further hammers home his message by noting that the participants all spoke about “how they had been trying to find a good restaurant in Boston and how their cool social networking tools and collaborative filters had enabled them to do such a great job of this restaurant hunting task.” The restaurant they found? The Union Oyster House, a dreadful tourist trap that anyone who has lived in Boston knows to avoid. Also, the quote of the week can be found in the article’s comment section:

“…the unspoken agreement of Web 2.0 seems to be that there is nothing more terrible than having to spend even a second alone with one’s own thoughts.”

—article continues—

Skills in the Digital Era part two
A great article from The Digitalist, the blog run by Pan MacMillan’s digital publishing team. It gives a transcript of a talk given by one of their editors on the skills needed to be an editor in the era of digital publishing. Short summary: the same skills you need to be an editor period. There’s a particularly interesting question posed, whether publishers should be investing heavily in Web 2.0-driven means to interact with readers:

“…just because Web 2.0 encourages new ways for readers and writers to get involved with each other it doesn’t follow that publishers want to, or can, take advantage of it, in much the same way that the poetry subculture of the twentieth century did little to affect conventional poetry publishing. In a way, the healthier and more active this reader-collaborative culture is the less likely it is that a publisher will want to become involved for fear of contaminating it.”

Social-networking sites viewed by admissions officers
Some college admission officers admit that they look at students’ Myspace and Facebook pages. Just another reminder that one’s life online does have consequences on one’s life offline.

Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt
James Gleick takes a look at the fascinating experiment that is Wikipedia, highlighting the grand accomplishments, along with the often bizarre internal political struggles:

“The Wikipedia pages on Deletionism and Inclusionism will lead you, if you care to follow, to pages on Mergism and Incrementalism. Also to Factionalism — because the factions have formed not only Associations of Deletionist Wikipedians and Inclusionist Wikipedians but also (can it ever end?) the Association of Wikipedians Who Dislike Making Broad Judgments About the Worthiness of a General Category of Article, and Who Are in Favor of the Deletion of Some Particularly Bad Articles, but That Doesn’t Mean They Are Deletionists.”