Time to Improve on Accidental Science

June 17 2008 / by StuartDobson / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

In the past, many scientific discoveries and technological solutions have come from a non related source of information. From Archimedes’ realisation in the bath, to the accidental discovery of penicillin, history is full of occasions where going outside the subject in question has provided answers to scientific problems. When you really think about it, in many ways humankind, technology, and scientific understanding have been propelled forward, significantly, by luck alone.

Many great individuals have been personally responsible for some of the most important discoveries of all time. Often, their discoveries were the result of sharing information with a friend or colleague from another field, who was able to introduce a new angle to the problem, opening up the eyes of both parties to new possibilities. Or, someone will change their field, bringing knowledge and experience from a previous career into the new subject and then approaching problems from a unique perspective. Today’s prime example of this is Aubrey DeGrey’s computing background giving a new perspective to the concept of aging.

Many major breakthroughs have been created this way, by going outside the realms of the problem itself, drawing upon the knowledge of something else to find a solution. It’s often something that is not done purposefully, so, more often than not, it doesn’t happen. Chemists might plug away at a problem for years, not realising that the answer lies in zoology. The solutions to nanotechnology might lie in quantum physics, or perhaps just mathematics. There are so many possible avenues that perhaps there are problems that we will never solve, due to us never taking the correct path to their discovery.

This is obviously not acceptable. Relying on chance meetings of elites from different fields coming up with solutions will likely keep human progress to the speed of the 1800s, whilst working on problems for which solutions already exist is a ridiculous waste of time, especially if you want to stay ahead of Actuarial Escape Velocity. Thankfully, the internet brings a lot of information together and keeps the relevant people informed on progress. With the advent of huge, web based amateur communities and special interest groups, much news and information is shared amongst those with common goals, helping the spread of information. (cont.)

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Nova Spivack on the Future of Twine and the Intelligent Web

August 25 2008 / by memebox / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Media   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Twine creator and CEO Nova Spivack wants to change the world by enabling a much, much smarter Web. In the meantime, as Twine enters its public beta phase, he’s more than happy to help guide Web-based content through the baby-steps of back-end development, simultaneously allowing millions of users to “leverage collective intelligence to better share and discover information around their interests on the Web.” If indeed Spivack makes the right moves and successfully generates the requisite critical mass, his company Radar Networks could grow to a billion $+ valuation inside a few years, rising up to compete against the likes of Google in the contextual advertising market.

In this exclusive interview with Spivack (full transcript available at bottom) MemeBox’s Venessa Posavec asked some tough and comprehensive questions about Spivack’s vision of the semantic web, the near-term future of Twine, and the future of what Spivack calls the Intelligent web.

Some choice excerpts include:

On the future of the semantic web:

“It is about fundamentally upgrading the quality of the data on the Web.”

The Intelligent Web “is rather far off in the future still, in 2020 and beyond.”

On the trajectory of Twine:

“We’re seeing people spend extraordinary amounts of time on Twine, because interest networks are so sticky. When people can congregate efficiently and meaningfully around shared interests, amazing things can happen. This is what we are building, ultimately – a platform for networks that are about what you know – not who you know.”

“Our agenda for the next 12 months is to move from our present invite-only beta to an app that is ready for ‘prime-time’ use by mainstream consumers. This is mainly accomplished by working on usability. We need to make Twine easier for ordinary consumers to quickly understand and use. We also have a large number of improvements and new features to add. We hope to launch next major version in October 2008.”

“It is possible that Twine will become your primary touch-point for content on the Web, in part because of the intelligence that we can bring to the table. But we mostly think of Twine as a hub of collective intelligence, and Twine plays nice with e-mail, browsers, bookmarking tools, RSS, wiki-style editing, video, photographs, etc.”

On Twine as a potential Google killer:

“[B]ecause intelligent applications like Twine can understand context and even make inferences from that context, they can deliver a whole new kind of advertising that provides real value, in the context of what a given user is actually interested in.”

Here’s the full transcript of the fascinating and revelaing interview:

MemeBox: What is the macro significance of a semantically organized web?

Nova Spivack: The Semantic Web is essentially made up of a set of technologies designed to help the Web to become a place where information exists in a format that software applications can easily understand. By making information more accessible, software will in turn become increasingly able to understand and organize that information automatically and intelligently.

In other words, the Web, and the software that runs on top of it, will become smarter, and more intelligent. Not as smart as humans perhaps, but much smarter than, say, your word processor is today.

MemeBox: What are some potential applications of the semantic web?

Nova Spivack: I think that collective intelligence is the main thing that the Semantic Web is enabling, and Twine is a great example of a tool that is moving us towards a new paradigm that we’re calling “interest networking.”

Twine helps people keep up with what matters to them, by teaming up to organize, share, and track information with networks of people who share their interests. Twine is like a social network for sharing, organizing and finding knowledge. It helps individuals and groups achieve smarter, more productive, collective intelligence. This is interest networking. It is networking with other like-minded users around the topics that you care most about.

As background, a “Twine” is a place for your interests. It’s the next step beyond a file server, wiki, personal home page, or database. Users can create a Twine for any group, team or community. Twines can be private and personal, private for groups, or public for groups and communities.

The most popular Twines right now represent an array of interests, with names like Foodie Extraordinaire, Alternative Medicine, The Art of Filmmaking, Science Fiction Depot, Oddities Around The World, Sustainable Living, Humor and so on. The #1 most popular Twine is just called “Cool,” actually – it has 1,500 members who all contribute the coolest stuff they find around the Web. It’s easy to get lost in “Cool” for hours.

But that’s just the public Twines. There are private Twines for conferences, school groups, corporate teams, families, and much more. And there are thousands of Twines for more esoteric interests. In fact the smaller Twines are some of our more interesting use cases – there are only so many people in the world who are intensely interested in British cartoonists, but they are all finding each other using Twine.

The “intelligent” part of Twine is what it does under the hood, so to speak – automatically classifying and labeling documents, web pages, e-mails, photos, videos, etc. and connecting the relevant pieces to each other like a trail of breadcrumbs.

Twine also looks at individual users’ interests, understands their preferences without ever having to ask, and suggests new Twines to join, or other members of the community to connect with. Some of my favorite user stories are about two people connecting and forming a friendship about a shared interest that they never could have otherwise known they had in common.

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Nova Spivack's "Web as World" Observation Leads Us Further Down the Rabbit Hole

September 23 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 4

Summary: Spivack’s observation that the web is saturating the world (rather than just enabling a super fast web that the world and humans can enter) reinforces the idea that our system as a whole is amplifying its total intelligence and capabilities, rather than just supporting the digitization and “upload” of everything. It’s a basic, yet profound distinction that fundamentally changes how we expect the future to unfold.

Nova Spivack has posted some interesting thoughts up on his personal Twine, noting that “The Web is starting to spread outside of what we think of as ‘the Web’ and into ‘the World.’” He points out that “the digital world is going physical”, an idea that opens up an array of new futures previously not imagined by thinkers who’ve largely focused on digitization and inner space as the inevitable human destiny. Spivack concludes that “Beyond just a Global Brain, we are really building a Global Body.”

This thinking resonates with me because it moves away from a human-centric view of the future (digitization is good because we can live forever) in favor of a more systems-centric explanation (the system as a whole is getting smarter for its own reasons). It also makes sense in the context of an ongoing discussion I’ve been having with good friend and EvoDevo systems thinker John Smart about the direct relationship between A) our collective drive to tunnel toward Inner Space (nanotech, chemistry, energy efficiency, etc.) and B) our drive to expand into Outer Space (exploration, space travel, universe mapping, manufacturing, resource discovery).

An increasingly intelligent, self-orgainzing web that furthers growth of both the Global Brain, a concept originally advanced by Francis Heylighen in 1995, and what Spivack calls the Global Body, seems like the necessary tissue connecting our Inner Space and Outer Space focused appendages. In other words, the web that Spivack observes is not only concerned with creating better simulations, but also with expanding reach and bettering physical capabilities.

This jives with the idea that the point of the game of life, including the human-created web, is to ensure the survival of our global system via knowledge gathering and expansion, and less with the species-centric view that the future is solely about digitizing ourselves and escaping our biological chains. If in fact we are living in a system that purposely or automagically (to borrow a term from another futurist colleague, Jerry Paffendorf) seeks to increase control over its perceived environment (COPE) in order to ensure survival and expansion, then the creation of a web that serves this system, rather than just its human components, seems perfectly rational.

From this perspective, a merger between the web and physical world makes a lot of sense as it accelerates the input, sorting and output of information, resulting in increased system quantification and knowledge generation. In other words, a world-as-web + web-as-world boosts both our collective intelligence and capabilities.

Of course, this sort of thinking steadily pulls us down the rabbit hole to a place where the physical world can be viewed as web and the web as increasingly physical. But, then again, we’re due for some serious paradigm shifts, aren’t we?

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Web-Mediated Learning Found More Effective Than the Traditional Classroom

October 13 2009 / by memebox / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Education   Year: 2009   Rating: 4 Hot

A comprehensive report asserts that web-mediated learning has been found to be more effective than face-to-face learning.

New York Times: Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile.

My initial reaction is that both learning settings are critical and that students empowered with laptops in a classroom setting, such as in Maine, would probably outperform both groups. That said, it certainly does open the doors wider to distance learning and, hopefully, sweeping educational reform.

Intel's Mash Maker: The Web Evolves?

April 22 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Media   Year: 2008   Rating: 2 Hot

“What if you could take data elements from multiple websites and mash them together into a single, integrated view?”

Intel’s new Mash Maker, a suped-up take on Yahoo Pipes, now allows us web surfers to take pieces of sites and to assemble them into a single super-site. It’s kind of like RSS, but instead of modules of standardized text feeds you can clip most of the visual and interactive portions of sites that you find useful. Like Pipes, the data flowing through these micro interfaces can be threaded together to make for more efficient browsing, seaching, sorting experiences. For example, you can use Mash Maker to easily connect your Facebook friends’ profiles with a google map, creating a image of where they’re all located on a map that’s located on the same page as the profiles.

Overall, Intel’s new product represents the next stage in user-friendly web mashing and is a big step up from the less accessible Yahoo Pipes. It’s most powerful feature may well prove it’s ability to suggest pre-made mashups as you browse. If it can attain critical mass, this may be the the first web masher to gain incredible market share – it looks as though it’s got a shot. Otherwise, we’ll just have to wait for an improved version or a slicker, more dummy proof product from Company X to truly transform our web browsing experience. Either way, big changes in the way we browse are coming sooner or later, but definitely within 2 years, or so I’m betting.

[Video] Kevin Kelly on Semantic Web, Cloud Computing and Social Web

November 10 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2016   Rating: 1

Kevin Kelly (of Whole Earth Catalog and Wired fame) spoke at the recent O’Reilly Web 2.0 Summit November 5-7, 2008. His brief talk explores the evolution of today’s web towards more semantic capabilities of linking smart data (rather than websites and documents), infrastructure based on cloud computing (moving from machines to databases) and more transparent social web experiences (expand functional benefits from sharing).

What is our future augmented relationship to the web? ‘Extreme Dependence’ and ‘Extended Self

Source Kevin Kelly

[Video] Microsoft's Office 2019: Future of Human Technology Interfaces

March 02 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 1

Microsoft's vision of next generation of human technology interfaces:

Future Vision Montage

Future Vision Montage


Via I Started Something