Joe Firmage Refines His Message — Portals Will Compete With Wikipedia

from the still-not-that-clear dept

Two and a half years ago, Joe Firmage (famous for founding USWeb, infamous for some of his views about visitors from outer space) gave an interview with about his latest project — and was barely comprehensible. Even the interviewer interrupts him halfway through to say he’s not sure what he’s talking about. In it, he discusses how commercialization is destroying “the architectural efficacy of navigation,” along with the idea of self-sustaining 3D portals of information supported by “a new caching system for the Mozilla browser that lets you present Xbox-quality experiences on a dial-up modem” using “a natural taxonomy where we use nature, as described by science, to describe what’s inside, and what is related to what.” As for how it would be financially viable, he expected to partner with ISPs to sell… um… ISP service that would let people access his new 3D portals. It’s not clear why they would do this, but he seemed to believe that being associated with his company would “be a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.” In the past two and a half years, it appears they’ve spent some time refining the idea, and are are now set to launch under the Digital Universe brand — though, the message has changed somewhat. There are still some similarities to that early “vision,” but talk of 3D portals seems to have gone away. Instead, it’s morphed into a Wikipedia wannabe with certain articles in certain portals approved by experts (apparently having a PhD. qualifies you). The plan still seems to be to support it by selling ISP services — but now the plan is to sell branded ISP services through various non-profits. Of course, nowhere is it explained why people will want to buy ISP service from a non-profit. In trashing Wikipedia, Firmage whips out the favorite example of Wikipedia-haters everywhere: “Surely you would want to be operated on by an M.D. when it comes time for surgery.” Indeed, we would, we’re still wondering what surgeons learned their craft from an encyclopedia. Different resources have different purposes — and it’s still not clear what the purpose of Firmage’s new “Universe” is, even without the 3D portals. Update: But wait… I’m being told that the 3D thing is still a part of this — which should be fun, because every other attempt at 3D navigation has failed miserably.

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Comments on “Joe Firmage Refines His Message — Portals Will Compete With Wikipedia”

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The Other Mike says:

No Subject Given

Maybe it’s just me but it’s been my experience (as a former rocket science major in college and now a software dev in the real world) that people who feel the need to wrap a subject in big words really aren’t saying anything at all.

For example, it takes maybe all of 5 minutes to explain a black hole well enough to have have an educated discussion of the subject with someone who never knew a thing about them. So, when I see things like what that man said, my eyes just glaze over and put another one on that list I am saving for the day when I finally do snap.

But maybe that’s just me.

dafourthhorseman says:

Re: No Subject Given

Could you please enlighten me on the black hole knowledge. You sound like you know a lot about many things. I’m with you, keep it short and simple. Any explanations you can give about increasingly hard to comprehend subjects i will gladly listen to. You are right though, interesting subject but once i started to read i was like what is this guy talking about. I myself and an Information Science major and i work in Applications Development.

A Swiss observer (so therefore perfectly neutral ; says:

Re: No Subject Given

It’s not just you. The man is hallucinating and babbling like an amateur guru unable to convince anyone to join his cult.
Back in 99 I actually read through a few pages of his book “The Truth” he published on the internet just following his exit from USWeb. If he’s still on that pathetic trip, he probably does believe that a non-profit but branded ISP portal access subscription business model can make money for him.
Not that he needs the money. When he was kicked out of USWeb he cashed in on his options pretty much at the stock’s apex and walked away with literally tens of millions in cash.
Strange destinies indeed.

Rikko says:

Re: No Subject Given

I agree that he seemed to be saying a lot without giving any away (things like… what he’s actually DOING), but I wouldn’t interpret being articulate with using needlessly large words.
He seems like a bright guy and I’m more convinced that he didn’t want to give away what they’re doing (perhaps it’s so stupidly obvious they’re afraid someone will yoink their idea?) but still wanted the publicity.

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