Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I See No Forests But the Trees . . .

"So where is it?" is the question that most information professionals and scholars say when they approach the topic of the Semantic Web. Everyone's favourite Computer Scientist, Yihong Ding's Web Evolution Theory and The Next Stage: Part 2 makes an interesting observation, one which I agree wholeheartedly:

The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 is not supervised. W3C had not launched a special group for a plot of Web 2.0; and neither did Tim O'Reilly though he was one of the most insightful observers who caught and named this transition and one of the most anxious advocates of Web 2.0. In comparison, W3C did have launched a special group about Semantic Web that was engaged by hundreds of brilliant web researchers all over the world. The progress of WWW in the past several years, however, shows that the one lack of supervision (Web 2.0) advanced faster than the one with lots of supervision (Semantic Web). This phenomenon suggests the existence of web evolution laws that is objective to individual willingness.

Even Tim O'Reilly pointed out that Web 2.0 largely came out of a conference when exhausted software engineers and computer programmers from the dot.com disaster saw common trends happening on the Web. Nothing is scripted in Web 2.0. Perhaps that's why there can never be a definitive agreement on what it constitutes. As I give instructional sessions and presentations of Web 2.0 tools, sometimes I wonder, how wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and RSS feeds will look like two years from now. Will they be relevant? Or will they transmute into something entirely different? Or will we continue on as status quo?

Is Web 2.0 merely an interim to the next planned stage of the Web? Are we seeing trees, but missing the forest?

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