Monday, January 12, 2004

The evolving web

Last Thursday I met with several friends to talk about this project and the graduate research potential. It was a good exercise in several respects. I had the chance to further describe the concepts using different approaches. And it also led me to define more specific projects for starting points.

Overall I think my ideas were well received. All agreed that it was certainly broad and promising to be complicated, yet I don’t believe anyone doubted that a related project could be done. There are a number of different options for me to make a living, and I will most likely have to approach them all before securing income.

I do have some immediate tasks that need to be done. Several fellowship applications need to be in by February, which means I will need to take the Graduate Record Exam in the next week or so. Fortunately, computer versions are the norm and they can be taken year round.

I’ve continued my searches for related organizations and technology and discovering that my visualization of Global Mind concepts is more common than expected. While I have arrived at the idea through my own education and experiences, others have envisioned similar potentials as far back as 1945. Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” envisioned a human aid that would put a wealth of useful and easily accessible information at our fingertips.

Similarly, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the World Wide Web Consortium is promoting changes to create a Semantic Web. The Semantic Web is yet another term described as a web comprised of machine understandable data. In other words, in a Semantic Web, data and the applications for accessing it are designed to work together to provide higher quality information.

For example when you do a search on Google for “Bruce Skarin”, you might find some information about me. Yet, even though my name is quite unique, you are also bound to find information about different Bruce Skarins in the world. Myself knowing what information is correct can, filter out all the others so that only my info remains (like this), yet I cannot guarantee that it will always work and may be eliminating relevant data. In a Semantic Web, I will be able to provide you with a search function that finds every bit of information about me, exclusively, for an indefinite amount of time.

There is of course more to the Semantic Web, and more to what it would provide, but I am just learning myself. Mostly, I am again pleasantly surprised to learn that I live in a time where the technology for a Global Mind is really starting to take shape.