[LINK] Moving beyond Web 2.0
brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Oct 15 10:23:04 AEDT 2009
It's always so much easier to sit in an ivory tower and contemplate what
might happen after the current prediction than worry about the current
Web Squared??? Puh-lease.
Opinion: Moving beyond Web 2.0
By Chrstopher Barnatt
Oct 15, 2009 6:43 AM
Start calling it Web Squared.
It is nearly five years since internet guru Tim O’Reilly came up with
the term Web 2.0 to signal a second coming of the web after the dot com
Since that time, the core ideas of Web 2.0 – of the internet as a
computing platform and of value being created by linking people and/or
applications online – have also entered the mainstream. No chief
information officer (CIO) can ignore Web 2.0 developments.
But it is only natural to question what will come next. And according to
O’Reilly, Web 2.0’s successor will be web to the power of two, or “Web
Web Squared is the theme of the next Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on
20-22 October. The idea is that Web Squared is emerging as our
dependence on the internet grows and as web-based thinking is applied
beyond computing. The “squared” part is supposed to reflect the way web
activity will grow exponentially as Web 2.0 applications are
increasingly fed data not just by human beings typing on keyboards, but
also by cameras and other types of sensor.
Cameras and online sensors will create a mass of largely unstructured
data that at first may appear difficult to process and of limited value.
However, as more audiovisual data is tagged with GPS co-ordinates, and
as vision and speech recognition improve, so the potential will exist to
create value by inter-linking data from an emerging “internet of things”
in the same way that Facebook and Twitter allow people to create value
by establishing social connections online.
The internet of Web Squared will be a network that knows where users
are, recognises what they are looking at, and interprets what they say
within the context of their location.
Entering augmented reality
Augmented reality will be one of the first applications to make use of
Web Squared developments. Holding up a mobile device and seeing
additional information overlaid on its real-time camera feed is likely
to be mainstream within a few years. This will require sophisticated
database management to tie together in real time textual and numeric
data with image banks and GPS co-ordinates. This kind of processing will
allow applications in the cloud to recognise what they see in a video
feed and overlay relevant additional information.
For example, imagine a customer being able to obtain information on
every product they can point their phone at by GPS tracking where their
handset is, and/or applying vision recognition to what is on the screen.
Or entering a boardroom and seeing background information on everybody
present floating virtually over their heads. Or speaking the words
“nearest Chinese restaurant” into a phone and having a route overlaid on
the screen. The Layar browser and Yelp on the iPhone have already shown
us the potential of augmented reality.
CIOs therefore need to start thinking about how their companies will
contribute to the new kinds of data mash-up if they are to be visible in
augmented reality. Not least one challenge will be that in augmented
reality, only absolute real time will be good enough.
Extending Web 2.0 philosophies
There is, however, more to Web Squared than new types of application
that will process the immense data shadows soon to be cast by the
emerging internet of things. More broadly, Web Squared is also about
recognising that Web 2.0 has been as concerned with embracing new
philosophies as new technologies. And in championing Web Squared,
O’Reilly is signalling that the Web 2.0 ideologies of openness,
transparency and rapid, collaborative value creation may have
significant value well beyond the internet.
Almost certainly, many people will have to work together dynamically and
at high speed if we are to respond adequately to the next decade’s key
challenges of oil, water and global food shortages and climate change. A
big idea of Web Squared is that this may be achieved by applying the
philosophies of Web 2.0 to mainstream politics and business thinking.
The CIO opportunity?
There could also be good news for the enlightened CIO. Today, the IT
function in many companies is at a crossroads in the face of cloud
computing developments that threaten to give users the kind of
flexibility once briefly promised by personal computing and then cruelly
snatched away. The CIOs who are embracing the cloud and not trying to
build barricades around their data centres are the ones who understand
the philosophies as well as the technologies of Web 2.0, and who will
also very much grasp Web Squared. This therefore means that they and
their staff already possess those conceptual and management skills
likely to be in increasing demand.
Smart IT professionals may now be able to teach the rest of the company
a thing or two about more than just IT. However, the Web Squared
movement is likely to be another nail in the coffin of those CIOs and IT
staff who have, over the past five years, resisted helping users to take
full advantage of the technologies and philosophies of Web 2.0.
So is Web Squared a development to which CIOs will have to respond
immediately? Well, aside from prepping themselves to brief their chief
executive on what it is about when it appears in the the major dailies
in late October, absolutely not. However, Web Squared is an IT-centric
idea that is likely to get a great deal of popular attention over the
next year or so.
Web Squared is likely to take off partly because O’Reilly has a powerful
media machine and a habit of getting things right. The Web Squared term
is also likely to prove popular because there is a growing sense that
over the past year, Web 2.0 has been evolving into something more
powerful and is now in need of a new name. Finally, as the fallout of
the credit crunch slowly begins to dissipate, there is also a broader
appetite for any new way of thinking that embraces openness and
With the internet now reaching 40 years of age, to suggest as O’Reilly
does that the “world” and the “worldwide web” are now no more separable
than “business” and “e-business” – and that the real legacy of Web 2.0
is already its philosophy – is likely to be an idea than many will
CIOs and others in IT may therefore expect those around them to
increasingly want to know about the philosophy behind current
cutting-edge IT developments. They may even want to start speaking our
language. And that at least could be a refreshing change.
Christopher Barnatt is associate professor of computing and future
studies at Nottingham University Business School, and the author of
brd at iimetro.com.au
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