Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"From Linking to Thinking"

I attended the OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter 2009: "From Linking to Thinking: How We'll Live When Information Surrounds Us". The panelists were David Weinberger (Harvard Berkman Center fellow, author of Everything is Miscellaneous, etc.) and Nova Spivack (founder of Radar Networks, twine.com, and a leading figure in Semantic Web development, etc.). The moderator was OCLC's Roy Tennant (list owner of Web4Lib and XML4lib, columnist for Library Journal, editor of Current Cites newsletter, etc.).

My notes are a bit patchy, but I was able to fill in some gaps thanks to a "pre-conference conversation" transcript.

Evolution of the Web

  • Transition from a Web 1.0 publishing medium to a Web 2.0 communication medium (Spivack); or: Web was primarily a communications medium from the moment it escaped Tim Berners-Lee's lab (Weinberger)
  • Transition from directory structure (nodes arranged hierarchically) to more of a relational database structure.
  • Web of humans morphing into Web of machines
  • "Web 3.0" involves Web-based operating systems and "Web 4.0" is the "Intelligent Web" (Spivack)
  • Emergence of "augmented reality", for example LED output and geo-aware cameras embedded in contact lenses that providing schematic overlays and commentary for objects in one's field of vision (Spivack). Similar to "Semantic Earth" idea (Weinberger).
  • Emergence of the "Internet of Things" including not just Web sites and abstract concepts but physical objects giving and receiving information on the network ; the Web is "becoming the nervous system of the planet" ... "This is truly as if our species is evolving to a new level of collective intelligence." (Spivack); Weinberg is "more excited about the rise in human connectedness ... the mere fact that more and more humans are able to touch one another, in conversation and through their works, this is what's truly transformative."
Libraries and the Web
  • The library as a "giant brain" firing in slow motion. Digitizing the contents will simply make it fire more quickly (Spivack)
  • Library of the future will have "everything" digitized and available on-line, customized interface for individual user or group, intelligent assistance, and machine ability to detect and adapt to changing user needs (Spivack)
  • As to whether we're losing our ability to negotiate long-form arguments (e.g., thinking in book-length format versus Web snippets), and whether this contradicts the idea that the Web is making us smarter. Perhaps there's some truth to it, but it's a fair trade-off. (He compared Plato's warning in the Phaedrus about relying on books rather than oral instruction and memorization.) We have to get away from the notion that intelligence is something specific to the individual brain, the important thing now is to be part of an "intelligent network". (Weinberger)
  • Librarians should "scan the books already." Also we should do something about the fragmentation of literature in different journal aggregator databases. There should be a single integrated interface to all periodical literature owned or licensed by the library, as opposed to our users having to check EBSCO, JSTOR, WilsonWeb, etc., figure out which journal titles are indexed by which of these aggregators, and how to use their unique interfaces and search parameters. Also, that we should be more political in promoting open access (Weinberger)
(To be posted on CMS SharePoint site)

No comments:

Post a Comment