Monday, 21 March 2011

Web 3.0 Lab: Web 3.0 Lab: Here Comes Nobody: Clay Shirky Needs ...

Web 3.0 Lab: Web 3.0 Lab: Here Comes Nobody: Clay Shirky Needs to come clean on his work for Libya...:

Web 3.0 Lab: Here Comes Nobody: Clay Shirky Needs to be More Honest on Libya:

Opinion Piece
Clay Shirky has some explaining to do about his work with Libya

In 2007 Clay Shirky, guru popularizer and advocate of Web 2.0 technology, addressed his work for Libya in 2007. In a brief blog post on the issue he said:

Over the weekend, Evgeny Morozov asked about my consulting with the Libyan government in 2007. In March of that year, I was invited by Monitor Consulting to come to Boston to speak to a Libyan IT minister about using social software to improve citizen engagement in coastal towns. The idea was that those cities would be more economically successful if local policies related to the tourist trade were designed by the locals themselves.

Clay Shirky on his Consulting Work on Libya

Shirky goes on to admit that he was naive, but one issue remains open: how much money was Shirky paid for the work.

My Shirky may be naive but no one would call him stupid. There is no way in 2007 he did not know that Gaddafi and his regime had carried out a number of terrorist attacks against Americans in Europe. He could not have not known the nature of Gaddafi's regime and that any profit made in the tourist industry, which Shirky claims he had hoped to promote via consulting, would certainly line the pockets of Gaddafi and his forces. At the time Bush and Blair were desperate to make it seem that Gaddafi had changed as a result of the war in Iraq, but I don't think Shirky had any such stake in the war in Iraq and his calculations were likely not as naive as he now claims.

And since 2007 a great deal has been learned about the Monitor Group project. We now know for certain that under the cover of pro-democracy work the Monitor Group was conducting a lucrative PR campaign for Gaddafi with the expressed purpose of raising his profile in the Western world, while doing nothing to promote democracy. Shirky may have not known that in 2007, but he most certainly must now and it would be good to know more details about Skirky's relationship with the Monitor Group.

To be fair we live in a global world where many of us find ourselves in bed with less than honorable partners. The United States finds itself more and more co-dependent and the butchers of Tienanmen Square. We burn oil produced by dictators who don't recognize the fundamental humanity of women or have journalist killed. He impose drug laws we know are destroying communities in South America, we invest in nations we know are destroying old growth forests and wiping out communities and species that live in them.

In the past 30 years the rise of a new free market has also seen the decline in the very idea of daily ethics. In the rush to profit we forget about Tibet, natives of the rain forests, women of Saudi Arabia, journalists in Russia, democrats in China, and even the poor in our own nations. America has even seen a political movement with no other purpose than to continue to deny health coverage to 30,000,000 people. Moral goodness has clearly stopped being much of a force in our day to day lives.

Its not that Capitalism is innately evil: its only that are often innately humans evil. Or maybe just innately lazy about their moral principles. Or just innately careless.

But more important than wikis and blogs to building a better future is our ability to see when we have made a grave error. We are rich in technology but poor in humility. Clay Shirky's avoidance of stating how much he profited from work with Libya makes his entire defense of the power of Web technology to promote human development seem hallow.

One thing the cyber-community has proven itself to be is fickle. If Shirky does not come clean soon about the extent of his revenues off work with Libya he might find himself sharing a virtual dog house with Julian Assange.

There are plenty of people in Tunisia and Egypt who actually have used the Internet to change their society, and I think we would all rather read books by people we can feel confident are real heroes.

Robert Hooker

UPDATE: After doing some more research it is now pretty obvious that Shirky is almost certainly down playing his work for the government of Libya under Gaddafi, that or until this year he was playing it up for some reason. In also every bio we can find of him on blogs, and his profile on Amazon. In fact on his Amazon profile Libya is the only government mentioned.

Now if he had only had one meeting with the government of Libya and, as he claims, he resulted in nothing, why was he mentioning the government of Libya again and again in his work after that time?

Its hard to escape the conclusion that Mr Sharky was part of the Monitor Groups efforts to raise the status of Gaddafi and Libya, that he was repeatedly speaking about this work to lend his own status as a Internet Utopian to the regime in Tripoli. The extent to which Shirky was working his experience with Libya in to articles. For example when a article is titled “Social production is the great opportunity of our age,” says web maven Clay Shirky and then goes on to mention Clay Shirky's work for Libya in the first paragraph there is a clear giving to Libya the prestige of the article itself. When his Amazon page for Cognitive Surplus also mentions his work in Libya we can only conclude that he was not just involved in one off with Libya IT in the hopes of doing something good, but was using Monitor group to profit off his reputation by selling it to Libya.

This is much more than the moral compromises many of us need to make to play the bills, it looks more and more as a well thought out plan to profit by associating his extremely optimistic ideas about technology with the ruthless regime of Libya, and the only motivation could have been profit.

Clearly Shirky is now too morally compromised to serve as an effective spokesman for the cyber-dissident movement. Perhaps he should take some of the money he made with Monitor group and take a nice long vacation. Hopefully NYU will carry out a full investigation of the ethics of their professor in this matter.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Web 3.0 Lab: Web 3.0 is not the Semantic Web, its The Spatial W...

Doing a search on the term "Web 3.0" will first and foremost take you to a large number of articles talking about the Semantic Web. Google searches on Web 3.0 resolves to Wikipedia article on the Semantic Web.

Ahmed Tarek
Finally, Semantic web became such a failure that they called whatever is going on now 2.0 and semantic web should be 3.0.

Semantic Web is a concept that has been around about as long as XML and even HTML. The idea is that a new way to write data to the web will be created that will make it easier for a single user to find precisely the data they want.

The most common architectural framework we is Resource Description Framework or RDF. RDF aims to code data in statements of three terms in a relationship. A classic subject object predict kind of solution. A large group of these "triplets" creates a "triplestore". The notion is that a large triplestore will be able to draw conclusions beyond the data encoded.

For example you might have a triplestore with the following facts encoded:

  • Coen Brothers directed True Grit (2010)
  • Jeff Bridges stared in True Grit (2010)
  • Bob Hooker did not see True Grit (2010)
  • Bob Hooker saw Tron Legacy
  • Jess Bridges stared in Tron Legacy
  • Tron Legacy was released in 2010
  • True Grit (2010) was released in 2010

Demos systems like this can then draw inspiring conclusions like Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges worked together on a movie that came out in 2010 but Bob Hooker did not see it, but Bob Hooker did see a movie staring Jeff Bridges.

Okay well maybe something a bit more useful could come from it, the idea is the same.

As long as you pretty much know what you want to come out of a triplestore and build it correctly you can conclude fairly obvious things. If a triplestore has cured anything or come up with any theory yet we have not heard of it.

If the Semantic Web will someday scale up to actually being useful is a open question. It would be really cool if it did. But if it works or not it is to a central part of the changes that are going on it the web that can be meaningfully called Web 3.0.

We suspect Semantic Web will keep trying to be part of some future web event, and that it will be being pushed as a core part of Web 4.0. The idea of automated "thinking"has been the Holy Grail of Computer Science from before most people could access a computer, and will probably always be an attractive idea to computer researchers if not consumers.

What tend to define Web 3.0 as not semantic, but rather the extension of the Web 1.0 (content) and Web 2.0 (Social Graph) into the spatial domain. Web 3.0 web content and social nodes are both tagged with spatial relationships and able to form social relationships based on current location.

But more than that, Web 3.0 means that users have access to the Web just about where ever and whenever. Web 1.o answer what, Web 2.0 answer who, and Web 2.0 will answer where.
For use the key technology change that makes Web 3.0 a distinct and revolutionary phase in the evolution of the Web is the fact that the Internet is now with the user all the time. The line that broke in the world form online has been broken.

Just a few years ago a common way to insult people who posted online was to say they "should get a life" or "should get out more", but today people are posting on twitter on trains to work, while waiting in bars for friends, or from lounges of museums. Foursquare, Facebook places and Gowalla extent the activity of being online to the activity getting out and about in the real world.

This ability to do while you surf, to consume and produce content anywhere has changed radically the nature of the user experience of the Internet. It is this change in the lived experience of the Internet that makes the term Web 3.0 useful.

The change does not require the Semantic Web, nor would the Semantic Web cause this change. So we tend to see the Semantic Web as independent of the key event that we call web 3.0.

Web 1.0 put people in contact with a great deal of information. The stereo type of a Web 1.0 geek is someone consuming masses of pointless data pieces while not in social engagement. The truth is though there never was a Web 1.0, people who used the web a great deal would find forms like Usenet for form community on. People have always viewed the Internet as a social experience first and foremost.

Web 2.0 expanded the ability of people to join and form community online for just chat groups to Social Graphs. Web 2.0 stereotype geek is someone who lives their entire social life from their bedroom or Starbucks. A "Web 2.0 geek" has lots and lots of friends on Facebook but never goes out. This was very empowering for people disabled people who could not leave the house, but it tended to make the focus of social interaction the bedroom or study.

Web 3.0 takes the web in to the world. A Web 3.0 geek is someone who can't make eye contact because they are glued to their blackberry or iPhone all the time. They are online all the time, never more than a few minutes from checking their twitter account.

A more positive way to think about it would be:

Web 1.0 is reading about a protests on a group's web site before hand, going to it, and going home and looking information on the web about it in the news the next morning.

Web 2.0 is learning about a protest on Facebook, seeing the people who are going to go, IMing to people who will go on from you Social Graph, going to it, coming home and posting images to your blog or Facebook page that night.

Web 3.0 is learning where a surprise protest is going to meet 10 minutes before it happens on your blackberry, video tapping it on your iPhone and posting tweets and images on your phone from the event, reading the Facebook entries on the way home and once you get back not even bothering with you PC because you already know everything and are too tired. Rather watch TV while tweeting on your android.

This mobilization of the Internet experience has nothing to do with the Semantic web, it is entirely independent of it. The mobile post-PC Internet (with is the third wave or Web 3.0) will happen without Semantic Web like meaning, and Semantic Web like meaning, if it is possible, could happen without adding mobility to the Internet.

We at the Web 3.0 Lab thing that by adding more spatial dimensions you will get improved semantic understanding. Much of our social understanding is spatial. Reasoning that some people hope to get out of triplestores we think will emerge out of geo-tagging of information. Spatial arrangements of data will drive interesting conclusions about how that data relates to the real world, how it is used, and therefore what it means.

The Web 3.0 Lab has a working model of meaning that is a bit different than what the Semantic Web assumes. While the Semantic Web sees data as meaning what it is about, or what it captures or contains, we seeing the meaning of data coming from how it is used. We feel that this is a more mature understanding of language evolved over the past decades by linguist and social scientists.

Web 3.0 Lab: Web 3.0 is not the Semantic Web, its The Spatial Web: "

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Hub in Second Life

Hubs, without real activities or features, remain the most popular sites in Second Life, because people can just pose and chat, which is what they really want anyways.

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life
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