“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” – T.S. Elliot
Technological innovation isn’t simply accelerating; the rate at which it’s accelerating is itself increasing. On a daily basis, the geometric rise of computational power makes possible new advances that were incomprehensible a decade before. As you hurtle ever-faster towards the future, you’d be forgiven for keeping your head down, heeding only every fifth technology promising to “change the way we [blank] forever.” – Windows 7, Unicode 6.0, HTML5, 4G, USB 3.0, H264, and a cyborg partridge in a pear tree. Right?
The Early Years
Web 1.0’s overly optimistic monetization of the Internet imploded, but thankfully left us with Amazon.com (whew) and eBay. Web 2.0 has shown even the most curmudgeonly Luddite that it’s not him/her against the Internet—our friendly Facebook pages are nodes on a global grid of goodwill (and a goldmine of marketing data) and LOL cats can make the upload-friendly H264 codec mentioned above sound warm and fuzzy. Web 1.0 was brave, rugged and individualistic; 2.0 inclusive, accessible and egalitarian.
Move over for Web 3.0 – The Semantic Web
Not that Web 2.0 can be entirely spoken of in the past tense—but make no mistake, Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, is here. And while Web 2.0 brought people together, its successor is bringing information together. You’ll hear more and more about semantics over the next few years, and many of you readers might already grasp the technical details at a deeper level bouncy castle for sale canada than does this humble blogger. Regardless, humanity has generated massive stores of data during the short life of the still-adolescent internet (which we’re on a familiar basis with today, and therefore needn’t capitalize any longer), and has learned that more information doesn’t necessarily equal more knowledge. Commercials for Microsoft’s Bing search engine (watch) emphasize that a search isn’t simply (or even mainly) about finding matches for the words typed into the box; it’s about gathering the knowledge being sought.
Semantics is about embedding meaning in our information so that a given word, phrase, sentence, etc. displayed is part of a granule of contextual, standards-driven metadata tags. Rather than a human searching for an article and manually linking it to or syndicating it alongside another page, an article’s words, sentences, paragraphs, even images and videos can be, with increasing automaticity, associated with precisely relevant content on other parts of the web. A given word can have several denotative definitions, connotative meanings, and/or slang usages, and any one of those definitions could take on slightly or drastically different meanings in the jargon of myriad professions, fields, social units, geographical areas, etc. But weight that given word with contextual tags, and the intended meaning emerges—ready for association, translation, categorization, ad infinitum. It’s not totally absurd to think of Semantics as empowering data to “friend” other data, and only fairly absurd to conceptualize Web 3.0 as a great big e-Harmony service for information.bounce house
The Semantic Web and Collaboration
You might not have friended your co-workers, but your goals and objectives should be aligned and your tools should allow you to collaborate for better, faster results. It shouldn’t matter if your co-workers are in the cubicle next to you or in Madagascar. Collaboration isn’t talking about working together. It isn’t discussing what will be done between the current meeting and the next. It’s about actual making immediate micro-decisions within a team environment; the assembling in real time of a project by living, breathing knowledge bases. Getting up and walking across the office to discuss a topic with a colleague is still a nice thing to do; but we have the technology to automate inquiries and responses, tasks and tickets, change notifications and event reminders. Isn’t getting up and walking across the office to chat with a colleague so much better after you’ve cleared from your plates the morning’s dozen action items?
My roundabout point is that we, like the contextualized data of Web 3.0, are granules of information. Maybe your AOL-Time Warner stock didn’t do so well; maybe Twitter gives you migraines—but the Semantic Web is much more than an evolution of e-commerce and hashtags. It’s a rapidly expanding and interweaving net of data connecting partners in collaboration based on the information they seek and have; increasingly immersing us in knowledge; integrating knowledge bases with each other to achieve—with increasingly precise tools in the hands of increasingly knowledgeable people—wisdom.
The way we work is changing, and the rate of that change is increasing. But don’t worry; just think how great you’ll be at your job with a shiny, new-fangled wisdom base…