Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Web 3.0

Is CE ready?

Norman Perrin is rather good at keeping his eyes on the frontiers of communication technology, and the potential social implications of what begins to be seen there.

On Monday he published a brief, excited note on his blog, about the ‘Web 3.0‘, the next generation of communication on the Internet. Here it is in its entirety.

Blogs are possible because of Web 2.0 which makes us all potential creators of content, rather than simply passive readers of content.

What might 'The Future Internet' - Web 3.0 - look like? Take a peak at this video from the EU:

Excited, I rushed to this site, to find a piece of text so jargon-bound as to be unintelligible, and a video too choked with its own portent to make the slightest sense:

First, the text

I have no idea at all what this is talking about, except that the Internet is going to be very different and that this will in turn make a big difference to the lives of us all. I think that I already knew this, but I remain none the wiser about how or when or what.

You look for yourself. Below is the link to the written text:

To me this is what the Romans, the first uniters of Europe, used to call bollox.

Second, the video

The video, Service Web 3.0 video is so totally awful in its failure to communicate substance as to begger description. Maybe I misjudge it and it is meant to be satirical (there also a video there of a bigwig from Google, a Mr Cerf) but I suspect that the European Union does not do satire. See and judge it for yourself and form your own opinion:

I thought that the whole point of the Internet, in any of its generations, is communication. What is the commentator-lady on this video trying to do? Not communicate, that’s for sure. Ditto for the tricksy graphics. I’m in wonder at the technique but that’s not what I am watching the video for. And as for the cameo appearances, where did they get those people? Central Casting? If so, what requests did the film-makers put on the form that they sent down to get them: geek, personality-disorder?

Why did they do this to me? The EU seems to have sponsored all this. That means that none of it is cheap and that ultimately it is my money being squandered, What did the EU think that it was doing?

2.0: Conductive Education is still missing something

Norman obviously knows enough about the Web 2.0 to see through the ghastly prose and the egregious video show, down to whatever is meant underneath. Taking Norman’s word for it (as I have to), something big and new is coming, but what and how and when?

I can just about get my head round blogging and social networking at the present 2.0 level, enough to know that the cause and the people in Conductive Education as a whole are failing to benefit from it as they could. Conductor Ben Foulger did an interesting pilot investigation documenting this area a year or so ago. My subjective, participatory impression is that, with a couple of possible exception, there has been no major change since then.

Changes over the last year or so?

There have indeed been changes in CE-people‘s internet usage over the last year or so since Ben’s study, in line with developments ‘outside; Conductive Education:
  • people are posting far more online videos (a year ago CE videos on line were still pretty rare but are now two-a-penny)
  • there is fast-expanding use of social networking (especially but not uniquely Facebook).
Big changes, these, but do they represent major (qualitative) change? On the basis solely of personal observation over the last two years, it seems reasonable to propose the following caveats to the growth reported above:
  • more people in Conductive Education now do indeed watch what is going on in on the CE blogosphere, but they remain ‘lurkers’, very few progressing from being passive observers to active contributors (and often then only as a result of encouragement and moral pressure),
  • i.e so far, most people do not participate actively
  • social interaction and recreation remain for the very large part the major use for social networking, and it is noticeable that conductors rarely venture into raising, notifying or discussing what might be called ‘professional’ matters
  • there is so far nothing interactive on the use of videos on line (please correct me if I am missing something).
Yet active interaction is surely what Web 2.0 is supposed to have been all about?

A wetware problem

The problem (if indeed you regard all this to amount to a problem) lies not in the hardware, nor does it lie the software. It lies in what geeks call the ‘wetware’, referring to our human selves *.
Putting aside the usual confusions and ambiguities about what is brain and what is mind, one can see the geeks’ intended point. If only people were more confident, articulate, altruistic, determined, brave, far-seeing etc, then Web 2.0 might have achieved far, far more for Conductive Education than it has done.

As it is, however, active open interaction, perhaps an essential prerequisite for CE’s much-needed collective, democratic action, has barely happened. In you cannot stick your neck out amongst friends, then how can you be expected to in more exposed arenas?.
Towards Web 3.0?

Will a qualitative leap forward in the web, from 2.0 to 3.0, still be in the context of no change in the dominant CE-wetware? If so, the whatever benefits are to be gathered by others from the object of Norman’s enthusiasm, and that of the EU, Web 2.0 might just pass Conductive Education by. That’s not Norman’s fault, or the EU’s, or even that of the poor, hopeless ‘communicators’ who speak at us but not to us in the written and video materials to which Norman directed out attention.

The fault is our own.

A year or so back, very much in a Web 2.0 context, Ben Fouler made some nice common-sense suggestions for raising the benefits of communication technology to Conductive Education, and especially to conductors. What to do now, though, with the next cyber-revolution almost upon us?
  • Try to get CE people to be more active users of Web 2.0?
  • or, if we can be satisfied that Web 3.0 is almost upon us, abandon present users and present usages to their historical fate, and swing attention to harnessing the social changes that will, we are assured, come with Web 3.0.
Please Norman, Ben, anyone else who knows about such matters, and has ideas what to do next, do keep us appraised. Offer even take. a lead.


Perrin, N. (2009) The future Internet, Paces, 13 October

Wetware: a footnote

Wikipaedia carries a helpful overview article on wetware.

Here are two short passages snatched from this, immediately relevant to the item above:

The term wetware is used to describe the embodiment of the concepts of the physical construct known as the central nervous system (CNS) and the mental construct known as the human mind. It is a two-part abstraction drawn from the computer-related idea of hardware or software

Computer Jargon Usage

The term Wetware is used in conversation, notably USENET, and in hacker culture. Also known as liveware, meatware or the abbreviation PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair), it is a term generally used to refer to a person operating a computer. It refers to human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) attached to a computer system. In this context the term is often intended for humorous effect; for example, in the frequently wry humor of technical support staff, a wetware-related problem is a euphemism for user error.

If you are interested in brain:mind questions, and ways of modelling the relationship, especially perhaps with extra-cerebral connections, the concept of wetware opens some interesting avenues to explore.

… and one final footnote

I wrote this article last night, before seeing Judit’s Szatmáry’s very frank comment posted this morning at the foot of the following blog-posting:

1 comment:

  1. See my long reply to Norman's post for my response. The gist of it is that CE is a low-technology even no-technology field, it has never used, or really needed it. Until now. I have no idea how to make conductors more tech savvy. That's a huge challenge to the existing culture. Another topic all of itself. As a community CE hasn't really grasped the possibilities of Web 1.0 (static web pages), never mind the community building social possibilities offered by 2.0. Version 3.0 probably too mind-boggling for it comprehend right now. Let's make 2.0 work for CE first! I have ideas of CE might use both 2.0 and 3.0. But take a deep breath... I stand up... 1,2,3,4,5! Don't run before you walk, or walk before you stand.