Web Semantics 3.0 for Web Users 0.9

This message started as an e-mail to Twine.com, a (still-in-restricted-beta Web 3.0 application) about a personal wish list for improved management of web information resources.

  1. Why am I writing this as an e-mail? That certainly seems awfully Web 1.0 in a discussion of Web 3.0 issues.  Guess I’ll eventually put it into a blog where many of my non-existent “followers” can look it up. [But fewer than  5% use RSS feeds for ANY purpose, and none have any kind of feed from this specific blog so how would they ever see it?? …]
  2. I run a half dozen different networks, trying to improve the use of environmental (scientific and technical) sustainability information in development activities on small islands, around the world. In that process, I maintain regular contact with maybe 250 people, about evenly split: half are residents of the USA and the European Community; the rest are in developing countries — mostly in islands where connectivity is less than optimal — around the world. Among the internet based tools I am using or have tried to use to support communications among these users since 1995 are e-mail discussion groups (30+ right now), forums, wikis, intensive e-mail messaging, web sites, blogs, and a couple of web 2.0 tools, such as TWITTER, FLICKR, and Leadln (but not MYSPACE or FACEBOOK).
  3. Progressing in time and complexity from plain text internet through the Web 2.0 applications listed above, I think there is an inverse relationship between the complexity of the applications and the willingness of potential users to actually sign-on to the technology.By way of examples:

a)    When I set up a simple e-mail group, between 10% and 20% of those who promise to participate will actually accept an invitation to subscribe. This is too low a rate for groups which need to reach most of the key opinion leaders in a subject matter area, so the lists are usually populated by “forcibly” subscribing  people into Yahoogroups (a pain, since they limit such a process to 10 additions per day).

b)    For three months I have been trying to get colleagues to sign up on Twitter because I see it as a neat tool to facilitate team efforts (see Adam Engst’s article on Twitter in Tidbits, “Confessions of a Twitter Convert“) on a major publication that we will be collaborating on for the UN Environment Programme by the end of 2008. There are about a dozen “core” members and another 100 or so less critical members, all of whom I have solicited to join Twitter two or more times. So far only my sister and brother have signed on (and they don’t work on the UNEP project!).

So, in light of these experiences I think the kinds of “Web 3.0” (or whatever) tools that would be most useful to me would be those that would provide a lot of the mapping and cross-indexing information described in  the video interview by Robert Scobel of Radar Networks’s CEO Nova Spivack, including some sort of version control for multiple editors and reviewers of written or graphic materials, without requiring the active engagement or positive participation by the bulk of the users.I don’t know if this makes sense to the designers and architects of the new types of web tools, but I thought it might be interesting for some to think about.

About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands and the Chesapeake Bay; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 52 years to the late Kincey Burdett Potter (see Kincey.org). President of the now-sunsetting Island Resources Foundation.
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