The Semantics of the Semantic Web and Web 3.0

Web 3.0? Semantic Web? Umm…

Like many of you, Kevin Kelly’s Web conference on TEDtalks, introduce me to and gave me insight into these emerging technologies. However, like many of you, I was still left with many questions.

Ever the skeptic, I did my own snooping and found some pretty cool info. I’ll start by throwing out this simple definition from Webster’s:

  • Semantics (n): The study of meanings.

Awesome! But, what’s next?

I started my search by looking at Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web (SW) as two separate entities. What I got in return was an overload of definitions and predictions for the future. Then I figured it out. I changed how I thought about the issue.

Web 3.0 is the platform, or portal, from which we will find and receive information. The successor to Web 2.0—which we’re in now—which is all about sharing content and Web communities, Web 3.0 will go a step further. More than social networking, more than an amalgamation of Web applications strung together just for user satisfaction, Web 3.0 will, in essence, know what you want, how and when you want it, and deliver it for you without you even asking for it.

This left me asking, how, of course, will it do all of this. And then someone turned on my proverbial light bulb. The Semantic Web is what will drive Web 3.0. It’s all about personalization it seems. And then I got excited. Well…sorta.

The prospect of having my own personal assistant (if you’ve been paying attention to my Facebook updates) makes me smile uncontrollably. I love the thought. Having a virtual “someone” to compartmentalize my ADHD-driven random thoughts, ideas, to-do’s, and what not would be great. But Kelly said, among other things, that to do this we need to be transparent. This means ultimate disclosure. Am I ready for that? Are we, as a society ready for that? I’m not too sure.

We’ve had other discussions and even blog posts in this class relating to privacy on our respective social media sites. I won’t even get into what being virtually transparent would mean for privacy. It would just be….gone. No more. Zilch.

So just as excited as I was to learn about this upcoming technology, I’ve already begun to shy away from it. It only took two paragraphs. This again goes back to my ultimate dilemma with technology:  Maintaining my own privacy. I want it. I deserve it! And, as much as I’d like to say that I’ll probably be the last ones to jump on the Semantic Web/Web 3.0 bandwagon, I don’t think I, or any of us, will have a choice.

Regardless of how I feel about the issue, and what I feel isn’t complete fear or skepticism I’ve provided links for you to explore the issue for yourselves.

This slideshow shows how Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web work hand-in-hand:

And, if you are still confused about all this techno mumbo jumbo, try these quick reads:


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Dashboard Confessional: Consolidating Your Social Media

Last week in class I identified my two key problems with using more than one social media site:  Organization and use. How would I find time or energy to organize my different profiles, and how would my use for each differ from the others?

As busy as we are, dashboard programs that compartmentalize updates from RSS feeds seem almost essential for staying up-to-date in our social media lives. Consequently, it seemed only natural that I do some research on the social media organization-type applications available. I found more programs than I thought existed, many with different uses.

I decided to focus on the 5 I thought were the most popular, and useful, keeping in mind that by the time I post this blog there may be a few more aggregator tools that have been released. All services are free.

  • TweetDeck:  I chose TweetDeck because of Twitter’s sheer popularity with my classmates and peers. Originally designed for tweet enthusiasts, TweetDeck is downloadable to your desktop and consolidates your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts. With TD you can update statuses simultaneously, while sharing photos and Web links. TweetDeck also allows users to manage conversations with groups, and to follow updates on all sites. TweetDeck is a great site for communication management.
  • Hootsuite: What sets Hootsuite apart from the other aggregator engines is its convenience. With Hootsuite there is no download; users access their HS accounts online. HS users are able to link multiple social media and blog accounts, like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and Foursquare, and track their friends’ activity on an easy-to-use dashboard. Some features include scheduling (live updates or pre-scheduled posts); a customizable dashboard layout; an RSS feed that sends status and blog updates across all platforms; and, tools for gathering information on your audience.
  • FriendFeed: FriendFeed was one of the first social media aggregators and still remains a mega contender. The site consolidates updates from 58+ social media services, including Netflix. FriendFeed sets itself apart by design. By focusing on you, the user, FriendFeed provides your friends with a tool to track all of your social media activity rather than focusing on helping you track all of theirs. FriendFeed collects all of your online activity and allows users’ friends to subscribe to just one place. It’s that easy. FriendFeed’s best feature? Real-time updates that eliminate the necessity to refresh a browser.
  • Netvibes: Aggregator tool Netvibes allows users to create what refers to as a “favorite page on steroids.” With Netvibes, users can receive e-mails, weather updates, read social media feeds all in one place. Users can come to one central location to find all of their favorite Web “things” without having to open a bunch of different pages. Other helpful features include tracking of dozens of blogs and streams, publishing, and an unrivaled widget customization option. What’s uber-cool about Netvibes? Since it shows up as a normal Web page, users can easily bypass social media controls at work.
  • Flock: Flock is its own Web browser, driven by social media integration. Flock combines not only links one’s social media sites, but also allows users to access, via one page, e-mail and other media sites like YouTube and Flickr. Flock also allows users to compose and edit blogs; clipboard links and pages for use later; read all of one’s favorite feeds in one place; and, it assembles all of the user’s social media friends in one list.

You might also want to explore these: Seesmic,,,, Retaggr, Swimwire, FriendFeed, Socialite, Threadsy, Fuser, Spokeo, Streamy, Profilactic, Socialite, Yoono, FlavorsMe, Digsby, Social Radar, and Google Reader (for news).

What did I learn? With all of the aggregator tools out there it’s important to find one that best suits your own needs.

For a future blog post I’d like to survey my Facebook friends and see which aggregator applications they prefer.

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Why so complicated?

I’ve added this video of Bon Qui Qui from MadTV in case any of you don’t know what constitutes a “complicated order.” Why such a term? It’s FUNNY! And, if there’s anyone who exemplifies poor communication, I think Bon Qui Qui would win the award. Watch the video.


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Privacy…Somewhat Interrupted

Let’s face it:  As communication majors, we are given the tools (so they say) to successfully, well…communicate. I spent four years in undergrad learning how to do this, and thus my life was not only shaped by how I communicated, socially and professionally.

These days, however, my communication style is dictated by my busy lifestyle. I’m always going somewhere, and I always have something to do. School, work, social life, activities, family—you name it, I do it. My phone is always ringing. I get text messages all day, and my e-mails are sent directly to my phone. What does this mean? It means that, now, while I’m usually very apt to respond to these gestures, sometimes I just wish I were unreachable. Sometimes I actually spend part of my day figuring out how not to communicate with some people. This scares me, because I’ve never been so, for a lack of a better term, “anti,” but I value my privacy.

Dear God, how do I find a happy medium?

The one glimmer of hope, the shining light in all of this, that I can see is Facebook. I love it, and I think Facebook is amazing, for a few reasons:

  • I think it is perfectly socially acceptable now to communicate with my friends and family all day via Facebook. No, I don’t sit at the computer all day long, commenting and “liking” statuses and other comments literally seconds after someone else has. But, those important to me know that I check my profile periodically throughout the day, and I usually respond within an acceptable time, whatever that may be. I haven’t had any complaints yet, so I think I’m doing pretty well.
  • Facebook is perfect for multitasking. I can sit in my office at the Kalamalama and actually get work done while I, say, chat with my cousin. Talking on the phone (for some of us whose brains can’t compartmentalize like that), texting, or having someone in front of you talking while you work, don’t necessarily work the same way.
  • Another great thing about my using Facebook is that my friends and family know well enough by now that if it isn’t important, it’s better communicated to me through Facebook. This leaves my phone and e-mail free for the important stuff, like work calls, e-mails from professors, and bill collectors.
  • Facebook is a great way—and in my opinion of the best ways—to maintain relationships with people I don’t see often. Phone conversations get boring and tiresome, and texting takes me away from doing other things. E-mails? Well, I’d rather use Facebook’s less formal way of communicating. At least I can “like” things.
  • I can communicate with family, especially my mom, who lives in Portland.

It may sound like I think Facebook has saved me from the barrage of communication I receive each day, but I will say that social media does have its flaws. And, I’m still torn on the issue of personal versus professional when it comes to Facebook. I initially began using the site for networking purposes, and now, three years later, looking at my profile it is easy to say that I have ventured away from that. It’s just hard for me to say no to a friend request. I like friends! Who doesn’t? I have friends, family, and colleagues as Facebook friends, and they all have access to my thoughts, feelings, sometimes drunken late night pictures at Indigo. I’ve always been an open book, and I like it that way. Will this come back to bite me on the bum later? Perhaps, but until then I like things the way they are.


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