Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is It Now Web Squared?

The O’Reilly Web 2.0 Sumit is coming up later this month. Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle have been talking about their vision of Web Squared—Web Meets World—as they solicited suggestions for conference content at midsummer. The conference program seems to be set and it’s likely to have its usual major impact on thinking about the web and what it means in our life.

Their live webcast is posted on YouTube. It’s almost an hour long but both of them are always worth listening to. This slideshow hits the major points and is well worth paging through.

When you do, you’ll probably also want to download their white paper (note the number of channels they are using in a totally integrated fashion). They point out that Web 2.0 has always been about the Internet as common platform and using it to harnessing collective intelligence. We need to go beyond that to develop new applications, new systems that become better as they are used. That implies a lot of data; they use the term mobile sensors and give some interesting examples, the iPhone You R Here app is one. Their point is that there’s more to this “data cloud” than every item having its own separate identifying chip. There are all sorts of information flows (information shadows) produced by various kinds of machine-to-machine activity and, taken together, it provides a powerful data set. If that frightens you from a privacy standpoint that’s another, but important, topic.

In their overview, they talk about “stuff that matters” and this is their conclusion:

If we are going to solve the world’s most pressing problems, we must put the power of the Web to work – its technologies, its business models, and perhaps most importantly, its philosophies of openness, collective intelligence, and transparency. And to do that, we must take the Web to another level. We can’t afford incremental evolution anymore.

It’s time for the Web to engage the real world. Web meets World – that’s Web Squared.

No quick overview can do justice to the thinking of O’Reilly and Battelle and their collaborators. You should read and mull over some of this material for yourself. It may well be the roadmap to the future of the Internet!

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