Posted by: Serena | 19th Jul, 2007

Web 16.0

I think I can finally connect a few thoughts I was having last Thursday.

Web 2.0 is all about connections between people and interaction in the online environment. It involves creation of new content in addition to simple acquisition of available information. But what about the cabinet in the short story we read? It automatically knows what Bishop wants. Right now we input information into a computer and use it to find what we want. The computer does the work for us, but we still have to tell it what we want. Is it possible to have a computer that performs the exact functions we want without any input from us? I know it sounds outlandish; after all, wouldn’t that be bordering on the psychic? Perhaps not. There are already programs in existence that use minimal input as a starting point for extensive retrieval of desired information, even when inquiries are not particularly specific. After all, the most difficult things for us to find are the ones that aren’t straightforward information retrieval, but operations that deal with more complex needs and desires. What are we in the mood for? What will inspire us at any given moment? What do we need to go in a new direction? And I think those are the questions that computers can help with the most, potentially.

A good example of a current program that is covering a sort-of middle ground between present and future is Pandora. Yes, there’s still input required, but not much. You type in a song or artist you like, and fwoosh! Pandora gives you a playlist of other music it thinks you’ll like, based on that one song. It’s not foolproof–nothing is–but the point here is not what it’s accomplishing but what it’s attempting to accomplish. Pandora delivers what it thinks we want. It’s not a simple search and play program. It’s search and explore.

Getting back to the title of my post (I’m sure you’re all just dying of curiosity), what exactly is Web 16.0? Web 2.0 allows us to interact with each other. Web 16.0 interacts with us itself. Web 16.0 is, in effect, an independent entity. It is an enhanced mirror. Not a portal, or a window, but a crazy kind of conglomeration. It is a replacement for a human being, but so different in its capabilities that it would act more as a supplement than a replacement. And true Web 16.0 would be neither replacement nor supplement; one of those words implies lack of need for interaction between humans and the other implies inferiority to us. It would be equal. And more importantly, just as Web 2.0 acts as a network of connections and inspiration between people, Web 16.0 is a network of mutual inspiration between people and computers. As we evolve, so does our technology.

If we let it.


Whoosh! Great post.

How can it be “neither replacement nor supplement”? What else is there? I can see replacing or supplementing human effort in a good way that frees human effort from druggery, but it’s still replacement/supplement, isn’t it?