A Web of Intrigue


“I tried to see through the distant mists, to pierce the curtain that veiled the mysterious horizon. What questions crowded to my lips? Where did this sea end? Whither did it lead? Should we ever behold the other shore?”…. I liken my journey of the social media infrastructure to Jules Verne’s Journey to the centre of the earth.

Greetings fellow travellers,

My head is buzzing with terms, web 2.0, Information Architecture, the semantic web, web of things and artificial intelligence to mention just a few. It’s time to pull over and look beyond the illusions and sideshows that make the journeys so colourful and interactive. This journey is not about what we experience on our trips as we traverse the super highway; it is about what creates that experience. The structures that bring the highway together and make it that magic ride we could never have taken some 20 years ago.

I find myself stumbling about in very unfamiliar territory; the information I have to hand is a seriously potent cocktail of academia and computer science that I will need to study carefully to comprehend. But before I launch into the present I want to give some consideration to the past, where it all began, with Sir Tim Berners Lee inventor of the web. Perhaps the most identifiable feature of web 1.0 was it simply offered static web pages, it gave users a read only view and there was no opportunity to interact with others. Check out Tom Fleerackers for a more indepth view.

I start looking now to what the future might hold, Sir Tim Berners Lee inventor of the web talks of what comes next.

Next I discover that Tim O’Reilly instigated web 2.0, the current web, through a brainstorming session in 2004 at a web conference.

I have struggled to define Web 2.0 but I am not alone Wilson, Lin, Longstead and Starker (2011) stated that there was little literature about web 2.0 and that a definition was difficult as it could mean different things to different people. But they did put forward a clear and concise definition:” Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the web Wilson et al (2011) gives you a formal definition but I have interpreted it to be an interactive user based web that focuses on services to enable people to connect, sharing media and information between both individuals and organisations.

Nothing stands still though, just as I am coming to terms with web 2.0 I find that what might constitute web 3.0 is being discussed. Anderson, (2012) gives me an insight to the various options being developed; the two that catch my eye are the “Semantic web” and the “Internet of Things”.

The semantic web is the anticipation that computers will do some of the work for humans; for example currently filling out a form is a human task but it is envisaged that in the semantic web the computer will do some of that work for the user. It is not intended that the web will be developed to make decisions as humans do but to provide assistance to humans; computers will apply a form of artificial intelligence. The semantic web also is looking to linking data from as many sources as possible; this will result in “a single global data space”. I align this idea with the term I often hear “one source of truth”.

To me it is normal that we can communicate, collaborate and share across the web but as I look at the “Internet of Things “ I start to feel we are entering a future that we once only read about as science fiction perhaps a little 1984. I have reached the threshold of my acceptance; it’s not so much the capability but the change in privacy that chills me. Think of microchips and readers and tracking objects and then maybe people.

At last I limp out of the fog and through the dissipating mist to something that makes a little more sense to me. Information Architecture! If the web is the foundation then the architecture is what forms the framework of the web pages; it enables users to navigate the sites and find what they want with less difficulty. It can’t always be seen by the user but they can experience the effect of the architecture. It includes providing navigation methods for the user to more easily traverse the site and search options to find information as the author anticipates the user might want to find. As web sites become more complex, informative and interactive with other sites Information architecture helps provide a better journey.

It is here my journey through the web of intrigue comes to an end; but even as I sign off the web continues to be developed and the intrigue continues.

Tweet dreams


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