I am delighted that I had the chance to go to WWW2007 – at one stage I’d wondered whether there would be anything of interest other than the session I was in (Open Data). Or that I would know anyone… After all it was 13 years since the last/first WWW meeting I went to (although obviously there is a lot of overlap with XML). And would I have lost touch with all those W3C Recommendations (== standards). As it turned out I got so excited I found it difficult to sleep.
The features I take away are:
- “Web 2.0” is big with the industry people – the keynotes (I’ve already mentioned TimBL) concentrated on the new webSociety where the technical stuff should be part of the plumbing. Nothing really new but optimism about pixelsEverywhere (i.e. we shan’t need laptops – we read our email on the gaspumps) – trust and identity, revenue generation, etc.
- “Semantic Web” – overlaps with, but is different from Web2.0. The immediate progress (for which I am glad) will be lowercasesw – just do it NOW! – for which the human nodes and arcs will be critical. The sw will be rather like a W. Heath Robinson machine – all string and sealing-wax – but every joint will be surrounded by humans pouring on oil, adding rubber bands, etc. We’ve now idea what it will evolved to, but we are optimistic.
- “Linked Data” – a very strong and exciting theme. We are generating RDF triples in advance of knowling how we are going to connect them. It’s somewhat like a neural net. We think there will be an explosion of insight when this happens – beyond what we have done with Web2.0 mashups – useful though those are. I’m currently trying to load the basic tools so I can play with real stuff.
- “Open Data”. Very positive and exciting. There is no doubt that the Web of the next few years will be data driven. Everyone was dismissive of walled gardens and sites without RDF-compatible APIs – incuding Creative and other Commons licenses. The semantic web can only function when data flows at the speed of the internet, not the speed of lawyers, editors and business managers. And I have no doubt that there will be businesses built on Open Data. Excitingly for me there seems to be no real difference between OpenData in maps, logfiles, and scholarly publications. (So I’m looking forward to XTech2007)
- Sense of community and history. A strong desire to preserve our digital history. Google finds the following image from WWW94 and CERN
Yes – I was running a biology and the Web session, only to find that Amos Bairoch was in the audience! How much of this is still in the collective web semi-consciousness. Somehow I am assuning that everything I now do leaves preserved digital footprints – is that naive? And what, if anything, could I do?