July 6, 2011

What kind of Web 3.0 world should we make?

Reid Hoffman
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman (photo by JD Lasica)

Reid Hoffman on pervasive data and how it will impact business in the future

Christopher S. RollysonIn addition to being the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman is a Silicon Valley insider with rich insight into technology trends, markets and building companies.

I attended his presentation at SxSW, where his main message was that the future was bearing down on us, and he prophesied that it would “arrive sooner and be stranger than we think.”

  • He painted the context for his theme, “Web 3.0 as data,” with this timeline:
    • Web 1.0 was a low bandwidth environment in which individuals searched for files online (and on demand). The concept of “cyberspace” was separate from the “real” world. It was an anonymous world in which many people participated as animes.
    • Web 2.0 was a shift in which people increasingly participated with their real identities (MySpace notwithstanding), and the online world became increasingly integrated with the offline world. Social networks mapped social graphs (again, with real people), and most people blogged as themselves. Online became firmly embedded in offline life, as a way to help manage and navigate by using reviews and other buying tools. Wikileaks and the current revolutions in the Middle East are part of this larger trend.
    • Web 3.0 is mostly to do with the massive amounts of active and passive data we are generating. An example of passive data is phone calls from mobile devices. Bandwidth is increasing, which enables video, audio and graphic sharing and data. Hoffman advocates thinking hard about it and acting to protect data. Think about what kind of future we want to create.
  • Web 3.0’s data introduces significant risks to privacy because every transaction, passive and active, is linked to our real identities. Mobile device transactions are constantly tracked, and this is relevant because they are tied to real identities.
  • Hoffman’s biggest fear is how governments could use information to control people. Governments are organizations that are closest to what he called “pure power” (because they integrate information, legal authority and military/police power). They can mine email, text and all other digital data to learn anyone’s social graph.
  • Unlike corporations, government is not incented to care for citizens; he implied it is less accountable. Continue reading
June 16, 2011

Top 10 Predictions on What’s Coming Up Next in Social Media

future-web

Ayelet NoffAt the beginning of the month I was asked to speak on a panel that discussed social media, social networks and “what’s coming up next.” In research for this discussion, I came up with a few insights on what I foresee coming up next in the world of social media.

Here are my top 10 prognostications:

1The physical and digital worlds will be more highly connected than ever before — already today we are able to run in the park and track our progress online while sharing it with our friends or track our weight loss, or even our ovulation (well, some of us, that is) with iPhone apps that connect to our Facebook and Twitter profiles and enable us to keep track of our progress as well as share the data with our friends. Robert Scoble had a brilliant presentation on this topic at the last TNW Conference in Amsterdam. You can see it here.

2Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks will become increasingly what Fred Wilson termed “social dashboards.”.In essence, Facebook and Twitter are social channels on which other companies can grow and develop their own technologies and businesses. Both Facebook and Twitter have created economies far larger than many nations. Take, for example, companies like Stocktwits, Tweetdeck and Zynga (among others) that have made huge profits piggybacking on these two platforms.

3Until now, brands have been very concerned with bringing as many people as possible to their pages. Consumer brands can now finally reap the fruits and build social commerce stores where Facebook users (all 600 million of them) can purchase products on their favorite social network without needing to go to any destination site. Facebook will become one of the major channels of future online shopping.

4Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are currently collecting information about each and every one of us: our likes and dislikes, our interests and activities. Soon in an age of Web 3.0, an age of Semantic Web, we will no longer need to search for information on the Web as information will find us based on all this data that companies are collecting. The right information will be served to the right people at the right time, saving us all a lot of time, effort and energy.

5Mobile technology will become more dominant and near field communication (NFC technology) will be developed further enabling it to offer us special promotions, coupons and tips based on our geographical location and the interest graph we discussed in insight #3. Continue reading

November 9, 2010

The benefits of structuring your data using microformats

Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool
Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool

Deltina HayLast week we discussed how the Semantic Web relies upon markup languages that tag Web content, making it easier for machines to interpret. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including tagging content as structured data or linked data.

Today we’ll take a look at marking up your content as structured data using microformats.

Microformats for structured data

Microformats are one of the standard markup formats used to create structured data. Like any markup language, they consist of tags and attributes that are used to “mark up” your Web content so that a search engine can recognize the content as structured data.

Content that is typically marked up using this standard includes contact and location information, reviews, products, and events. To transform your data into structured data using microformats, you simply add some additional classes and tags to your existing HTML, adhering to the microformats standard.

To demonstrate, let’s look at the “hCard” format. This format is used for marking up information about people, companies, organizations, and places. Here is how the marked-up content will look within the HTML of your Web page:

————-

<div id=”hcard-Deltina-Hay” class=”vcard”>
<a class=”url fn” href=”http://www.plumbwebsolutions.com”>Deltina Hay</a>
<div class=”org”>PLUMB Web Solutions</div>

<a class=”email” href=”mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a>
<div class=”adr”>
<div class=”street-address”>P.O. Box 242</div>
<span class=”locality”>Austin</span>

<span class=”region”>Texas</span>
<span class=”postal-code”>78767</span>
<span class=”country-name”>USA</span>
</div>

<div class=”tel”>512-555-9999</div>
</div>

————-

And this is how it will appear on your website:

Deltina Hay
PLUMB Web Solutions
[email protected]
P.O. Box 242
Austin, Texas, 78767 USA
512-555-9999

To the naked eye, there is nothing special about this content. It is nothing more than your contact information with links. Search engines and Internet browsers, however, will now be able to interpret the content as structured data — specifically structured contact and location information about you and your company — and display it or use it accordingly. All you need to do is mark up your existing contact information using the microformats standards.

Microformats.org has a lot of resources to help you out, including an hCard creator that you can use to generate code similar to that in our example. Continue reading

October 21, 2010

Web 3.0 demystified: An explanation in pictures

Socialmedia.biz contributor Deltina Hay now has a featured column on Technorati called You’ll Be Back: Search Optimization & Survival. The column focuses on search optimization as it applies to the entire Web: search engines, social search, mobile search, the semantic Web, etc. You can read the articles right here on Socialmedia.biz every week.

In this first series of articles, we discuss each of the fundamental elements that are moving us toward an application-driven, Web-based, mobile computing era, and how they will ultimately affect search optimization.

Deltina HayWeb 3.0 aims to make online content easier for machines to understand and opens up and links large sets of data in consistent ways.

Finding a definition for Web 3.0 is no easy task when most people are still trying to grasp Web 2.0. However, it is a necessary task since Web 3.0 technologies are encroaching on the Internet quickly. Perhaps the best way is to start at the beginning.

Web 1.0: The Internet in one dimension

In the beginning, the Internet was flat. Think of it as a collection of documents (Websites) lined up side by side. Though many of the sites may have linked to each other, those links simply took a user straight to the linked site, and maybe back again.

Each website was classified using metadata composed of meta-keywords, meta-descriptions, and meta-titles that described what the content of the website was about. At their simplest, search engines used established search algorithms to comb through all of the websites’ metadata to return what it considered relevant results based on your choice of keywords.

The inventor of the Web, Timothy Berners-Lee, refers to this phase of the Internet as a “Web of Documents.”

Web 1.0

Web 2.0: A two-dimensional Internet

This next generation of the Internet added another dimension: collaboration.

This added dimension means that websites were linked in a more collaborative way. Instead of sending a visitor away from a site to view related content, the content is actually drawn into the visited site from the related site using RSS feeds or widgets.

But it isn’t only the websites that are more collaborative, it is also the users of the websites’ content. Internet users tag and comment on content and collaborate and interact among themselves.

Search engines have a whole new layer to consider in their searches: user-tagged Web content and the relevant connections between the users themselves.

Berners-Lee named this Internet phase the “Web of Content.”

Web 2.0

Web 3.0: The third dimension

Even with the rich metadata, collaboration between websites and users, and user-generated relationships to draw from, machines are still machines, and they still find it difficult to discern actual meaning from human-generated content. The third evolutionary step of the Internet aims to fix that by adding the dimension of “semantics.”

The goal of this phase is to make the content of the Web more easily interpreted by machines. Web content is typically written for humans, which means that it is produced with aesthetics in mind — little attention is paid to consistency or relevancy of the content itself.

Tim Berners-Lee calls this phase — rather passionately — the “Web of Data.” Continue reading

May 4, 2010

OpenCalais: Serving up context on the fly

Why sharing your content is a smart business move

JD LasicaYou may have heard about the threat by online publishers to cordon off their sites’ content and put a No Trespassing sign on their lawns to ward off crawls and indexing by the search engine.

That chest-thumping strategy is a dead end.*

Consider the exact opposite of that strategy: Sharing your content in a broad ecosystem of traditional news sites, blogs and alternative publication. That’s the approach taken by participants in OpenCalais.

I’ve been hearing for some time about OpenCalais (pronounced cal-lay) — have you? — but I didn’t really begin to grasp it until I ran into Krista Thomas of Thomson Reuters at NewComm Forum.

I suspect most of us don’t really want to know the under-the-hood stuff about the Semantic Web. What we want to know is: How will these new capabilities advance my publication, my business, my blog, my cause? (Trust me, they will!) Here’s your five-minute backgrounder on OpenCalais, one important slice of this onrushing shift in Web technologies.

A context engine for blogs and news publications

Calais MarmosetIn a sentence, OpenCalais is the Thomson Reuters initiative that provides a free Web service and open API to connect content on the Web — and offer much-needed context. As its website proclaims, “We want to make all the world’s content more accessible, interoperable and valuable.”

Krista, who is also vice president of marketing & communications for OpenCalais, puts it this way: “Some call this trend the semantic Web, some call it Web 3.0, but simply put, OpenCalais is a quick and easy way for publishers to generate metadata for their content –- which they can use to streamline content operations, improve SEO, drive increased reader engagement, automate the creation of topic hubs and more.” It’s a valuable toolkit of capabilities that allow you to easily incorporate state-of-the-art semantic functionality within your blog, content management system, website or application.

Yes, any website or blog, no matter how small. Continue reading