Web of knowledge: the Semantic Web

Last week many Australian teachers & tech  educators travelled to Melbourne to participate in the ACEC 2010 Conference Digital Diversity, an Australian biennial national ICT education conference. Much has been written since then about the challenges we encountered, the message of the keynote presentations, and the interesting experiences and conversations we all enjoyed.

What struck me was the continued conversation about the same things – even the Keynote sessions offered no new insights into the future directions of learning, though there were some challenging messages thrown out to the participants as ‘take-aways’.  For me the absolute  highlight was the  Keynote by Oscar award-winning Australian  Adam Elliot. So refreshing to hear something beyond the usual Gary Stager message of gloom and doom which offered little in constructive strategies for the listeners.  Thanks to Chris Betcher for his Keynote and reflections on Gary’s presentation too. I liked Chris’ presentation much  more than I liked Gary’s – despite Gary’s apparent claim to  fame.

BUT where were the discussions about the future directions of the web?  No keynotes that explored the synergy between virtual worlds, augmented reality, or the Semantic Web.  Nothing that offered hands -on grass-roots understanding about information fluency and knowledge work in a globally connected semantic web.

We have to stop working/thinking in silos!!  It was the same at the Apple  ITSC2010 conference, held over the last two days in Sydney.  Nice stuff covered for sure, and fun hands-on workshops. But nothing that points the way forward. Nothing that deals with reading and  literacy (our inescapable way of cognitive engagement with multimodal texts) on a variety of devices from paper to e-devices. Nothing that acknowledges the virtual, augmented, semantic mashup of connection with the world.

You know, the journey is  just  become interesting – don’t stop now:-

•1980s – Desktop is the platform
•1990s – Browser/server is the platform
•2000s – Web services are the platform
•2010s – Semantic web is the platform
Humanity is being connected by technology – oh not just in a Web 2.0, connected/conversation way, but in the way that Tim Berner’s Lee actually envisioned.
Web 3.0 – the Semantic Web – will revolutionise knowledge discovery.  And here we are still talking about the same old stuff without so much as a’ doff of the hat’ towards the real future of the web.
Do not for a minute think that you have prepared you students to understand how to learn well if you are integrating a bit of fun  technology- whatever the platform you use!  What are the thinking strategies that are underpinning your work?  What are the information fluency tactics that your are deploying in your classrooms?
I presented a preliminary conversation starter about  Web 3.0 and the Semantic web at ACEC2010 – just because I know that too many teachers are not even now looking at the different search engines, and the strategies that can be applied in the current web. How on earth will we expect our students to query the value of the information flood of knowledge that will be more readily available once the Semantic web takes a hold?
Time to roll your sleeves up my friends, and go beyond current thinking to understand learning and teaching when the web is our personalised federated search engine!  Will our students know more? or will they become more easily swayed through biased popular opinion?
Get beyond  your 21st century learning bubble of Web 2.0 tools and technology integration, and start planning for the actual future of learning.

Working at Web Scale

The Web as “humanity connected by technology”. This is the Semantic Web -  the web of linked data, according to Sir Time Berners Lee vision. Tim Berners-Lee spoke  at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland about the future of the Web and the value of working at “Web Scale”.

The next generation of the Web promises greater opportunity for advancing human intelligence by making us part of the technology system. Social networking is people working together – but they are not using the intelligence of the system. What would it be like if we got the mass of humanity connecting with machines?

(via titticimmino.com )

It’s All Semantics: Searching for an Intuitive Internet

Newer generations of researchers not schooled in more traditional, library-based (pre-Internet) research methods are used to doing keyword searches on the Internet to discover information. “But if you come from outside a given field, you don’t necessarily know what those keywords are,” says Alyssa Goodman, a Harvard University astronomy professor. A Semantic Web setup would enable researchers to craft their queries in more natural language. Goodman adds, however, that a fully semantic Web that can read, comprehend and categorize information beyond keywords requires a level of artificial intelligence that is currently not available, something Rensselaer’s researchers are trying to address with this new tool kit.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., $1.1 million in October to create a software programming tool kit by mid-2010 that scientists and other researchers will be able to use to make data from their work available to all.

This project is an excellent example of the groundwork happening behind the scenes that ultimately will affect what we in school libraries and our classrooms should be teaching students about effective search techniques.

These are issues I’m very curious about, and am going to spend time in 2010 digging deeper to learn more about the changes taking place.

I will be sharing what I find out at presentations at ACEC2010 and ISTE2010.

I think I’m going to enjoy  this!

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Google generation and virtual libraries

pin.jpgPeople have very different information needs at different points in their lives. People also search for information very differently depending on the knowledge they have of search techniques or the nature of the interface that is being interrogated.

A new report Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future provides a comprehensive analysis of information behaviours, google gen and social networking behaviour, and the implications of this for the information environment and libraries – and includes the challenges we face.

Is the Google Generation a myth? This new report, which was commissioned by JISC and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – is the most adept at using the web.

Lets face it – there is a world of difference between social networking conversations and in-depth information requirements, knowledge building and development. It is in this area that the report explains

that people are having great difficulties navigating and profiting from the virtual scholarly environment.

The report provides a strong message for library services, and significantly it also raises the issue of the semantic web – a topic of conversation on Twitter a few days ago.

The world wide web as we have seen and experienced it so far could be completely revolutionised by the advent of the `semantic web’. A system where, currently, humans express simple searches in everyday language, to order groceries, reserve a library book or look up a railway timetable, could be superseded by a system in which computers become capable of analysing all the data on the web.

Good Information Architecture will become more and more critical if the semantic web is to deliver information effectively.

Twitter conversation:

@heyjudeonline Web design juxtaposed against information design – now there’s a pretty challenge yet basic building blocks for semantic web.

@Tuna XML mainly as RDF is just lacking in practical application in real world schema (dodges flames)

@Heyjudeonline real world schema is the real issue isn’t it. Structured approaches and metadata were the first line of attack in web

@Tuna correct.. the break out of the meta information flow is critical to the webs development beyond a search farm. We can direct and translate and ensure like goes with like or people have the chance to join their like with like

@heyjudeonline exactly! We know that single data domains with simple keyword tools are rapidly obsolete. Move beyond RDF resource primer

Books to 3D search – good for your soul!

I can’t resist commenting on BOOKS as we continue to skip down the yellow brick road to Web 2.0, Web 3.0 or whatever!

Here is an excellent visual list of the Top 10 Banned Books of the 20th Century. Needless to say, each tells a ‘story’ – and the cultural shifts around some of them have been profound! Books still have a significant place in our world – and perhaps this is why they still figure in Web 2.0 developments that make books easily accessible to buy and read.

5 Alternative Ways to Browse Amazon provides an array of alternative visual search tools for….. well yes, for finding and buying good books. Very good read.

Developments in visual search tools seem to be gaining pace. You will be amazed at what is happening at Space Time, 3D web search, currently in Beta and only available on a PC. But what a WOW! way of searching “at the speed of thought”. “Watch as your information converges in one space at one time”.

But even more interesting for an information professional is the presentation about the Semantic MEDLINE Visualization Prototype which incorporates the semantic web and natural language processing – manipulating information as well as documents to respond to a searchers needs. It connects knowledge from various resources from PubMed and Medline – and natural language processing will summarize and produce a visual network or relationships between the material you are interested in.