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“Is the Web getting any smarter?” depends entirely on us

May 17, 2009
Tim O'Reilly
Image by jdlasica via Flickr

About a month and a bit ago, Web 2.0 Expo took place in San Francisco. This is the major event of the year for the New Media Industry, one that has been going on for 5 years now. It is brought by O’Reilly Media and specifically Tim O’Reilly, the person who made ‘web 2.0’ what it is today. And it is where industry influencers gather in one conference center to discuss and shape the future of online interaction.

This year the main topic is ‘Power of Less’. In his closing remarks, O’Reilly (who recently had a granddaughter) compared the web to a baby “Web as a baby and web 2.0 as a maturation of this baby”. In the first year of its life,  the web was pretty passive in absorbing info, but as it develops, just like a baby, it ‘mashes up’ the data it absorbs from those who interact with it, to interact in a smarter way with the world. Just like as a baby grows into a thinking, working, productive adult, the web doesn’t only absorb information and spits it out anymore, but digests it to make bigger ‘ideas’ and ‘offerings’. Ones that are bigger than the sum of it’s data-parts, and that no longer need human direction and input.

“The baby is growing up – Extracting meaning from data will drive an experience where user clicking on keyboard is no longer necessary. It’s not just fun, it’s ‘starting to go to work’ “

I know, it’s a beautiful and scary notion at the same time.

What does it mean for us? As consumers as well as strategists? According to O’Reilly “We need to create more value than we capture”. The baby is maturing and we need to allow it to get to the next step where it processes info in a smart way. Some of these value offering are already out there, for example Connected (the product I manage for LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell)  is using unique and extensive data archives to suggests potential connections based on a lawyer’s law school, employment history, cases on which he or she worked, etc to its members (under ‘people you may know’). So the user is not expected to work hard trolling through members’ directories to expand their professional networks. The website does that work for you and not only that, it is all tailored specifically around the legal profession industry structure and focus.

I highly recommend reading Moya Watson’s blog post where you can watch the video of O’Reilly speaks of the future of the intelligent web, as well as read key bullet points to summarize the 5 dimensions that were discussed in the expo:

  • self
  • presence
  • place
  • governance
  • community

How do we make more of the web? How do we help it mature in a smart way, and without it taking over our lives? and what does this maturer web looks like?

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    3 Comments leave one →
    1. May 17, 2009 1:43 pm

      thanks so much for the shout-out there, Alin!

      it was such an inspiring comparison, 5-year-old Web 2 with 5-year-old child. there are so many directions to go with it – i found it hard to narrow down. i also like the fun-vs-work note you capture — “It’s not just fun, it’s ‘starting to go to work.’ ”

      next time you’re in SF @ web2 events, hope to see you there!

    2. alin wagner-lahmy permalink
      May 17, 2009 4:43 pm

      Thank you Moya – it’s an honor to ‘see’ you here.

      I cannot start imagining how inspiring it was to be there to listen and participate in the discussion that watches, analyzes and defines the industry. especially now when the and the ‘growing web’ discourse is becoming so relevant with new intelligent tools such as Wolfram Alpha.

      I will be in SF at the end of the month for Wordcamp and would love to meet you.

      Thanks again!

    3. moyawatson permalink
      May 21, 2009 7:26 pm

      wordcamp! yay!
      May 30.

      i’ve just followed you on twitter — dm @moyalynne when you’re around — let me see if i can get to wordcamp!

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