Debatewise: A good system for constructive debate

Debatewise.org is a site I think about every time I see an argument on Twitter or in a comment thread on some blog or other. The reality of the site falls very far short of the promise on offer:

[…] a place where the best possible arguments for one side are listed next to the best possible arguments against. These arguments aren’t created by one person, but by like-minded individuals collaborating to form the strongest case. This allows people both to easily compare the pros and cons and also to come to a decision safe in the knowledge they have the best information to hand.

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This post by Robert Scoble describes the main reason why I despise Facebook. It’s not their lack of respect for user’s privacy, it’s not their amoral founder or their virtual monopoly in social media. It’s that they have provided something that satisfies the needs of most regular users so well that they’ve critically — and perhaps fatally — injured the common web.

It’s too late to save the common web. It’s why, for the past year, I’ve given up and have put most of my blogging into Google+. I should have been spending that effort on the web commons and on RSS but it’s too late.

Normal users don’t care about the argument anymore and they are addicted to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and apps on iPhones and Android. Heck, if you are at the Super Bowl tomorrow the official app is on iOS and Android and not other platforms.

The common web isn’t just under attack, it’s been under attack for more than four years.

Why did it take so long for people to wake up?

It’s too late for Dave Winer and John Battelle to save the common web – scobleizer.com

A bookmarklet for making web citations

I share a lot of suff from the web, on this blog and elsewhere. Typically I like to use a passage of text from the site I’m linking to (wrapped in a <blockquote>), followed by a link to the source (using <cite>). Then I’ll add some of my own text above or below the excerpt to add any necessary context.

I’m very particular about how I format all of this information. Only fairly recently I’ve started using the excellent TextExpander to speed up the process.

When I need to excerpt a passage that is more than just plain text (containing, for example, lots of links, lists or a table) I’ve been making use of the handy Posterous bookmarklet, which takes any selected text and formats it very much in the way described above. I’ll then modify the code it produces to suit my own needs.

The Posterous bookmarklet is fine, but it has two drawbacks:

  1. It uses Posterous-specific markup (a class on the blockquote and div instead of cite).
  2. I don’t use Posterous any more, and the bookmarklet requires that I be logged in.

So starting with this need, I’ve produced a mockup of a bookmarklet that would be of great utility to me, and presumably to many others:

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