The Evolution of the Web: Past, Present, Future by Nova Spivack

Tenerife - Mount TeideAnd continuing further with that series of blog posts with highlights from 2009, here is another one that I thought I would share with you folks today. It’s not going to be the only one touching on this specific topic, but I guess I had to start somewhere. Yes, that’s right! I’m talking about some of the most amazing presentations that I have been able to attend live, or rather, get exposed to them from services like Slideshare that some of the folks I have been following for a while have been sharing across in there.

One of those presentations that I have certainly found really inspiring, as well as very much thought-provoking, is the one put together by Nova Spivack under the title "The Evolution of the Web: Past, Present, Future" and which he gets to describe briefly over at his blog. If you are looking for one of those presentations that would make you think for a while where we are in terms of our own usage and exposure to the Web, and its true potential, and, much more interestingly, where we are heading, this is one presentation to go through!

When I was first exposed to it a couple of days back, I just couldn’t help pondering about what my own Web user experience has been throughout the last 13 years. You would think that it’s been one of those that some would consider mature, specially when I realised it’s been almost 10 years since my first exposure to social software. However, if you check Nova’s deck you will realise how it’s actually something more to do with baby steps. Right at the infancy of what the Web will offer not just today, but in the next upcoming decades.

Plenty of people seem to think that Enterprise 2.0, or Social Computing, whatever term you would want to refer to, is the final destination that will help change the way we work within the enterprise,  fundamentally transforming not only the business itself, but us all as knowledge workers who are constantly depending more and more on the flow of information and knowledge at our fingertips. Well, for all of those folks I can certainly recommend you check out Nova’s deck, because it surely isn’t the case…

Somehow, after going through his deck, that growing sense that Enterprise 2.0 is just the beginning, having just gotten started with its initial infancy stages, would become stronger than ever. Yes, we are at the beginning, or going through the initial stages rather, of a new (r)evolutionary way of conducting business, of having more information than ever before at out immediate reach and having to make plenty of informed / learned decisions that may well not only change, but also influence tremendously, the corporate world as well as knowledge workers. I know that some of you may be thinking out loud we are witnessing a rebirth of Knowledge Management, perhaps. In fact, some of the main principles, defined over 15 years ago, are still the same.

However, in my opinion, there is a big fundamental change taking place and Nova nails it quite nicely on that presentation shared above by using a specific term I have grown to become rather fond of over the last few months… Yes, I’m talking about the Intelligent Web. The last frontier for the World Wide Web, where, finally, we are starting to see how it will connect everything, bringing into reality the concept of Semantics, for which Nova describes five different approaches that combine some of the main key elements that long time ago KM tried to put together, but never succeeded, at least, completely: Tagging, Statistics, Linguistics, Semantic Web, Artificial Intelligence.

That’s where Social Computing kicks in; it’s just the beginning, the first initial baby steps for us all to realise there is something larger out there on the Web that we will eventually end up with. It may take us another decade or two, but eventually the move towards it is inevitable. So I guess the mission for us all is to keep growing along with it; don’t think that Social Computing is the end of it all, but rather… just the beginning. And if you would need further inspiration of what may lay ahead I’m just going to leave things over here as is and embed Nova’s Slideshare deck below for you to watch and ponder about it some more … It will be worth it, I can assure you of that. If not, judge for yourselves …

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Groups for Twitter; or a Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels and on the Importance of Listening to Your End-Users

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I was planning to create this particular weblog post last week Thursday, but in the end I didn’t, more than anything else because I didn’t want to build further up on the frustrations of not being able to use Twitter for most of that day, as Neville clearly points out over at Twitter needs some super strength and agility. Instead, I decided to let it go and enjoy a Twitterless day. But now that things seem to be back up again I thought it would be a good idea to share some further thoughts on why I still feel Twitter is the killer app., as far as micro-blogging is concerned, that is.

As a starter, people keep coming up with some pretty impressive blog posts that clearly detail how Twitter could be used on a business environment to help you stay connected with other knowledge workers while in a distributed world. Latest examples are those from Jeremiah Owyang with his stunning and incredibly thorough overview of how to benefit from Twitter within the enterprise: Web Strategy: What the Web Strategist Should Know about Twitter and Bill Ives, who over at the FASTForward Blog, gets to comment further in a very interesting conversation on another blog post put together by Sara (From HiveTalk) on 7 Enterprise Uses for Twitter.

I tell you, if you would ever want to get a crash course to find out where all the buzz is coming through with Twitter, those links that I have just mentioned above would get off to a good start, along with the 10 Reasons Why Twitter Will Help Improve Your Already Existing Social Networks that I created some time ago and which, to date, still remains as one of the most popular blog posts I have created over here.

But the thing is that not only those blog posts are helping out Twitter become that killer app. for micro-blogging; it is actually the fully committed end-user community who keep coming up with plenty of different ways on how to improve the overall user experience. And perhaps one of the best examples that I am very very excited about is the one put together by Chris Messina, a.k.a. FactoryJoe, over at FactoryCity, under the title: Groups for Twitter; or A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels. Something that, by the way, has also been mentioned and adopted by Stowe Boyd, and which you can read some more about it over at Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings

In that particular blog post, Chris gets to detail one of the main reasons for which Twitter has become the killer app. out there: the passion to innovate and keep up with the pace of a thriving end-user community who cares about a particular tool and who would want to take things further into the next level.

Yes, that is right. In a very thoughtful and insightful blog post Chris gets to describe one of the features that we strongly feel would make Twitter an even much more attractive Web 2.0 application for everyone out there to try out: combining the concept of groups and tag channels that would help connecting with people in a much more meaningful way than what is happening today.

I am not going to detail what Chris is after, since you can read the lengthy post over at his blog. What I am certainly going to say is that with proposals like that one for social software tools you can never go wrong from a product development perspective Why? Because that helpful feedback on how to improve the user experience is coming from the most valuable source available out there for any social computing tool: its end-user community. That is just how you can keep innovating at a rampant pace keeping up with what end-users are asking for, which in the end will make things a lot easier, as far as adoption is concerned, and will certainly pave the road on where innovation is heading.

It is a collaborative effort. A collaborative effort that goes beyond the enterprise and which keeps getting active involvement and participation from that where it matters the most: the knowledge workers themselves. I tell you what, I am really excited to see what Chris has put together working collaboratively with others, because I can certainly see making it come through and become the next wave of interactions from Twitter.

Only thing remaining would be whether the Twitter development folks are up for the job and would take FactoryJoe’s collaborative work and push it through the next time that the application goes for a facelift. Now, that would be really cool and something for which I would forgive the fact the RSS feed has been broken since almost day one! (Thank goodness for Tweet-r!).

Can you imagine what Twitter would be like if we would be able to set up tag channels for "contextualisation, content filtering and exploratory serendipity"? I doubt it would get better than this, I tell you. And at the same time I am very excited to see how this particular proposal taps as well into some of the superb piece of work that Thomas van der Wal has put together for tagging and folksonomies. That’s just as dynamic, vibrant and exciting as it would get!

Let’s bring it on!

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[e2.0] Bottom-up All The Way Down: How Tags Help Businesses Organize by Thomas Vander Wal

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Today I am actually going to take a short break from the various reviews around the topic of the different elective sessions I recently attended at the APQC KM & Innovation event in Houston, and instead talk about one particular, and very helpful, resource I bumped into earlier on today which I think would be very very helpful for those folks who may be new to the subject. It all came to me after reading a number of different weblog entries related to the Enterprise 2.0 conference that finished earlier on this afternoon.

I bumped into it originally in one of the twitterings from Thomas Vander Wal where he actually shared the link to the presentation materials that he has used earlier on today for an elective session with the title Bottom-up All The Way Down: How Tags Help Businesses Organize. You can already check it out over at Slideshare and if you would want to have a peek into what the talk was about here is an excerpt taken from the conference agenda:

"Tagging has become one of the most recognizable motifs in web 2.0 social applications. Allowing all participants in social spaces — blogs, social networks, web 2.0 applications — to annotate bits of information with individually defined metadata is an acceptance of the value of collective intelligence, on one hand, and on the value to the individual of an individually ordered world. Will tagging work in the enterprise? Can individual employees — as a group — do a better job of organizing information through tags than IT?"

I must say that when I looked into the slide deck in Slideshare I thought that it would be a rather long presentation, since it contains 82 slides. However, when I took a few minutes to go through and digest the content, it is actually a lovely breeze to go through it. Yes, indeed, this is one of those different presentations that you know will be very informative and educational for everyone interested in the topic of tagging and folksonomies, not just from a Web 2.0 perspective, but much more interestingly from an Enterprise 2.0 perspective.

Yes, that is right, with that particular presentation, Thomas attempts (And succeeds tremendously!) to introduce the topic of tagging behind the firewall going through some very key basic overview of what tagging and folksonomy are, as concepts, and then introduces the comparison between taxonomy and folksonomy, which after going through it I have found it quite fascinating and very revealing for those folks out there who still question the value of tagging within the enterprise.

From there onwards Thomas gets to provide a good outline of the different business benefits from using tags within the corporation in order to empower knowledge workers to successfully tag the content they bump into as they go along. He even ventured into explaining some of the different reasons as to why people tag (See slide 37), which I have found very interesting because they surely match most of my own reasons on why I keep tagging almost everything!

However, what I have found very inspiring and perhaps somewhat controversial, specially since most folks out there may not be familiar with it, is the powerful connotations that social tagging has got within whatever business. Thomas describes this in a very simple, yet very effective manner, concluding with a number of concrete different examples of social tagging tools. And from there onwards, he actually touches base on a number of those different social tagging tools and how they operate by sharing a number of different screen shots. I would have loved to have attended his session for this particular bit as I am sure that I would have learned quite a few tricks on effective methods for tagging. Perhaps at some other time.

What I can certainly say though is that those folks, who are looking for a comprehensive, easy to digest, straight to the point, with no fuss presentation, and providing some rock solid conclusions on the topic of tagging and folksonomy behind the firewall, should certainly check the slide deck themselves. Because I am sure that they would find it relevant enough for them, and positively encouraging for everyone, on why tagging resources (And people, why not?) is worth while regarding the size of the business that is trying to implement them. I can certainly recommend this presentation and on top of it you also have got the chance to download the slide deck and share it with your colleagues. Just brilliant!

Thanks ever so much, Thomas, for sharing the presentation in Slideshare with us all and for giving us the opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the really high quality  materials seeing over at the Enterprise 2.0 conference. Excellent stuff!

(It was also a great pleasure catching up with you just before you headed to the event and look forward to the next round of conversations!)

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