Monday, October 6, 2008

Web 3.0 - The Semantic Web Cometh

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subTechst column, fall 2008. This fall’s column is out and is titled, “Web 3.0 - The Semantic Web Cometh- What Happens When the Read-Write Web Begins to Think?

Article overview
Make no mistake. Web 2.0, as important as it is, will seem like a minor plateau on the journey to the Semantic Web, also known as Web 3.0.

From info tease to overload. The Semantic Web will do many things. But above all it will address one of the most important question on the minds of the cyber savvy, summarized by the following quote by Credo, from Then What?
What happens when we ask a simple question and get so much information that we can’t sort through it, let alone evaluate its trustworthiness?
(from Then What? Everyone's Guide to Living, Learning and Having Fun in the Digital Age)
The illusion of knowledge. After all, if you are like most people, when you conduct a Google search you get a gazillion hits and read the first ten. You walk away with the illusion of knowing something. This is at least ineffective and potentially very dangerous.

Producing reports, rather than finding pages. In one vision of a well-developed semantic web, a search returns a multimedia report rather than a list of hits. The report draws from many sources, including websites, articles, book chapters, blog dialogue, YouTube presentations, cell phone memory, virtual reality resources—anything that is accessible by the rules of Web 3.0. The information in the report – which may be very wiki-like in structure - would be compared, collated and synthesized in a basic way, presenting points of agreement and disagreement, and perhaps evaluating these in light of political positions or contrasting research. The information would also be personalized, alerting us to personal and even local resources based on our profiles.

More time participating rather than searching. Ideally, the Semantic Web reduces the amount of time we spend searching and sifting so that we can spend more time thinking and participating.

Web 3.0 is a truly unique development. For the first time in the history of educational technology in the digital age, we can see a foundational change far enough in advance to actually plan for it. We can actually help direct Web 3.0 in advance of its arrival.

Download the article. Want to know more? Download the article, Web 3.0 - The Semantic Web Cometh- What Happens When the Read-Write Web Begins to Think?

Pass it on. Feel free to publish this article in whole or in part, and pass it on to anyone else to do the same.

Spread the word: The Semantic Web Cometh.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wired yes...but inspired?

We may be wired, but are we inspired? Or, to put it more poetically:

After you're blogged, twittered and flattened
And are ready to jump into the fray
You're still left with the age-old question
Just what was it you wanted to say?

If I had to sum up the digital age in education in one sentence it would be: Finally, we all get to tell our own stories in our way using the tools that best suit how we learn, create and communicate.

Given the variety of tools and modes of expression available to us, just what is it we want to say? Let me look at this through some of my activities during just the past few weeks, which found me in a number of classrooms working with students and teachers in new media narrative projects. These projects are very typical:
  • Fifth graders at Klukwan elementary, in Klukwan, Alaska. The students created "conversation stories" between themselves and someone else from a different culture they had been studying in order to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in "the global village. "

  • Third graders at Joy Elementary school in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is part of an NSF grant to combine exploration of the impacts of climate change and digital storytelling. The goal is to combine the power of story and critical thinking into an integrated approach to learning and expression.

  • Language apprentices at the Klukwan Community Center. The focus of their project is to give digital voice to their efforts to preserve their native language, Tlingit, which currently has a life expectancy of ten to twenty years.
The power is in the story, not the tools...
In each case, students used either iMovie or MovieMaker (roughly iMovie's equivalent on the PC) to combine recorded voice, original artwork and photographs into an original authentic narrative. Students reflected, wrote, recorded, listened, rewrote, and re-recorded until their narrative was synthesized, clear, and compelling. Then they added images that helped tell their story.

Something magical happens when students listen to their writing, rather than just reading it. They hear things they just can't hear through the typical writing process. And they modify things they wouldn't have otherwise.

So, what did all of these students have to say? Beyond the details, which always vary widely from one project to the next, students all said basically this: I have a voice, and a story to tell, about the land, my culture, myself and my hopes and concerns for the future. My story is based on what I learn through observation, study, participation and reflection. And I am telling my story using a language that is important to me, the language of new media, so that others might understand what I see.

As always, more at: and,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Of blogfolios and metaphors

Be the online anthropologist
Some worry about their blog traffic. I say don't worry- just be an anthropologist. Then no matter what happens, it is always interesting, always revealing about people and how they connect. What I love about blogging is that we reveal who we are in such fascinating ways.

Early online community studies
From 1988 to 1994 I conducted an assessment of an online conferencing community as an anthropologist might. The conferencing software was text-based (by the way, try telling a young person that there was a time when there was "nothing to click on" and watch them stare back in disbelief). My study started before the Internet was around, and ended just as it was coming on board. Many interesting findings emerged in this study, including:
  • The main reason people entered the conferencing system and stayed was to meet new people, make new friends and sustain the new relationships they created.
  • Successful online conferencing was largely a matter of metaphor. Pick the metaphor that works for your conference and refer to it within the course of conversation.
Blogfolios and metaphors
A blog can be anything from a debating venue to a newspaper name it. They are incredibly flexible. For instance, my distance graduate education students create a blog as a portfolio- a blogfolio. The portfolio is their metaphor. They post media on YouTube and SlideShare, documents on Google Docs, and then link to these within their blogfolio reflections. I leave it up to them how much conversation they want on their portfolios. You can get to their blogs through our class blog.

So, if the metaphor for your blog is a party at your house, and you expect a lot of people, then low traffic might concern you. If it is a drop-in center, where people come and go, then there is no reason for concern. The important thing is having the party!


Friday, February 1, 2008

Screasels, Googling under Web 3.0, smart badges, building a village under your house and more....

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WEB 3.0 Watch

What drives Web 3.0, the "semantic" web?

One thing is our intense need to deal with info overload and the cognitive dissonance it causes. Web 3.0 does so by analyzing the information for us and presenting it in a way that is relevant to each of us personally.

Consider your average Google Search. Say you are searching for information on "global warming" ... let's compare and contrast Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 responses...

Web 2.0 yields: thousands of web hits, leaving you to paw through them, determin
e their reliability, reconcile their inconsistencies, figure out what to do next. Even if you have the tools to do these things, who's got the time? Be honest- do you ever look beyond the first 20 to 30 hits you get in a Google search? May the buyer beware.

Web 3.0 yields: a single report or story, perhaps wikish, that synthesizes the thousands of hits, compares and contrasts them and identifies possible ways to resolve inconsistencies. The raw material of the report will include not only web material, but also a number of info sources plugged into the web, including book chapters, lectures on YouTube, Second Life events, TV shows, information stored on your personal computer, PowerPoint presos, to name but a few.

Web 3.0 knows a lot about you. And because it does, it will tell you about the following:
  • blogs, discussion groups even paid experts and vendors who can shed more light on global warming or offer tools to help you in your quest
  • assessment of where political candidates stand on issues related to global warming
  • lectures, experts and TV programming available to you locally
  • how you can play a role in your community to address global warming that is very community specific, drawing on services like Google Earth and local news
  • local groups and individuals who are interested global warming and how to reach them
  • stores in your area that feature earth friendly products
  • information feeds that will constantly update your report
  • and lots more
Everything by us contains our bias. Eventually Web 3.0 will be so intelligent that it will identify strands of bias in the information it synthesizes (republican vs. democrat / pro-development vs. pro-environment / informed vs. just plain dumb). You will even be able to tell Google to organize the information it retrieves so that it supports or challenges a particular position.

Who will control the world? Revisionist history will be created by whoever writes the code, and whoever pays them to do so. We will trust our Web 3.0 reports because we have to. Because we will not have time not to. They will become the truth, when actually they embody only one story about our world that has been told to us from a perspective we prescribed. Media mediating.

Web 3.0 is PIMC:
  • Personal (connected in a just-for-you kind of way to the communities you are or could be part of)
  • Intelligent (self-referential, self-synthesizing, self-organizing)
  • Multimodal (using many kinds of media, appealing to many ways of learning, allowing for many kinds of access, input and output)
  • Comprehensive (drawing on the entire universe of information, which it continually updates)
We are our wiki.


A real picture?

I don't know. I don't even know if this is astronomically possible. But by god it's gorgeous.

Click pic to enlarge.


TECHST MESSAGES... news bits from the tEcosystem...


"Wisdom is turning hindsight into foresight."

Discover more quotables

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My current favorite cool Web 2.1 tool?

Voice Thread
. It allows you to create a slide show or story, and add your voice and annotation. Immensely easy to use, fun and useful.

What's web 2.1? Web 2.0 + art the 4th R. It is web 2.0 plus the integration of non-text information (pics, music, animation, et al) as an integral part of message conveyance, rather than an afterthought.

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  • screasel. Screen + easel = screasel. It is the primary digital tool or locus of creativity for creating anything in the digital age, including images, music composition, dance animation...whatever. Screens became screasels when they went from read-only (first 50 years of TV) to write-possible (computers, cell phones, et. al.) Example: "Kids see screens as communication monitors as well as easels upon and through which to create original work of all kinds. They see them as screasels."

  • wikish. Of or relating to a wiki. Also, anything that is an open, evolving, cumulative compendium of thought that is subject to on-going modification. "Our approach to product development was wikish in that all ideas were important and became part of our vision for the future that could change and be reconceived at any moment." Non-wikish? Anything fixed and hierarchical.
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Screasels - they're everywhere.

In this pic, a couple is watching a movie (screasel 1) of a group of children watching a girl on TV (screasel 2) who is using a cell phone and a computer (screasels 3 and 4).

Click pic to enlarge.

How many screasels do you have in your life?

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Nielson and Digimarc team up to track Net content

The Nielsen Co. and digital rights management company Digimarc Corp. are launching a new service that will monitor and manage media content across the Web, enabling media companies to track their content throughout the Internet using digital watermarking and fingerprinting technology.

In addition, it will allow content companies, peer-to-peer services, social networks and user generated content sites to manage and monetize online media streams.

Bottom line: they will watch everything we do, and feed it back to us in the form of highly personalized market pitches.

Read more

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Virtual writers picket virtual NBC in Second Life

It had to happen. Imagine a family reunion in Second Life. Or parent teacher conferences. Or a blind date. Or just about anything.

Read more

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Man creates life-size medieval village underneath his house

I wish I thought of doing that. But who's got the time?

A 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy apparently had the time. Inspired by a childhood vision, he created a medieval village underneath his house that occupies 300,000 cubic feet and includes nine opulent ornate temples on five levels that are linked by hundreds of meters of richly decorated tunnels. It certainly wins the subTechst "basement of the month" prize.

Cyberhoax or reality wonder? If the latter, then it just goes to show that not all the really cool stuff in the world is digital.

Read more

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Smart Badges track human behavior

MIT researchers used conference badges to collect data on people's interactions and visualize the social network. Imagine having these at a party. Or a business negotiation. Or a trial. TMI? Not if you want to win.

Remember- eventually all information we collect feeds into Web 3.0, including info from smart badges. Are we sure we are okay with that? (Does it matter if we're not?)

Read more

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NASA seeks to build a MMOLG

(MMOLG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Game, though you probably knew that already).

NASA wants to use it to deliver NASA relevant content through innovative applications of technologies to enhance education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

NASA obviously isn't playing around about games.

Read more

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New high level group seeks to understand digital kids

Former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell has a new job: digital hygienist. He wants a federal task force to study the impact of digital technology on kids. It actually looks promising, but we can be sure it will help not just parents and educators, but also marketers and everyone else who wants to understand the young consumer mind.

Read about it, then write your congressperson. Or email them, blog them, or send them a YouTube link to you ranting about it. A piece of advice: don't sing.

Read more

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A truly ingenious marketing move

Motion captures audience because we naturally watch what moves. How else do we know how the story ends?

This is a truly unique approach to engaging users in your website. Consider this version 1.0 of a concept that will certainly evolve.


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Top ten tech flops

At the top of the list? Toto Toilets, with heated seats that caught on fire. Use your imagination, but don't tell me about it.

Read more

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MacArthur Foundation's digital learning study

The MacArthur Foundation launched a five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.

As always, MacArthur is "enlightening" the way.

Read more

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Wikis and avatars are improving education

So says this U.S. News and World Report article.

Read more

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The most influential media writing of 2007

According to John Bracken's readers.

Read more

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Top ideas of 2007

According to the New York Times.

Read more

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In some classrooms, IMming is an assignment

Many teachers who catch students instant messaging during class tell them to stop and finish their assignments. But in some classrooms, instant messaging is the assignment, as educators use the medium to teach everything from recognizing colloquialisms to writing for a particular audience.

Read more

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Second Life traveling tips

Second Life on less than 5 Linden a day, as well as a wonderful compendium of esoteric and solid advice for traveling in Second Life.

Read more

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The future of marketing? Getting to know you inside and out

The ability of new media to monitor what consumers are doing — like keeping track of which Web sites they visit — is fueling the interest in behavioral targeting.

Read more

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