Tuesday, January 23, 2007

DARPA PAL, Clippy, armed to the teeth

So there's all this talk about Web3.0 now, as I described in a previous blog entry. In poking around DARPA, I ran across their PAL project. The vision of PAL is:

DARPA intends to make major and long-term contributions to the field of cognitive systems, by:
  1. producing long-term scientific and technical innovations in the areas of machine learning, reasoning, perception, and multi-modal interaction;

  2. developing prototype PAL systems that bring together the best individual technologies to create integrated cognitive assistants;

  3. conducting a progression of increasingly more capable and robust prototypes to be tested and used in real world situations.
So this sounds familiar! In more pedestrian applications, I think mobility and Web3.0 look a lot like the PAL vision.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Enrique Ortiz on the Future Web

I ran across this blog post from C. Enrique Ortiz on the future of the web, and I thought it was spot-on. His post fits very well with the themes of may last few posts. Ortiz points to the importance of search, and find-ability, when he says:

O'Reilly skipped a whole revolution - the web (indexing and) search revolution. This is an "information accessibility" revolution. This search revolution and tipping point is the true Web 2.0.

Ortiz goes on to amplify his conception of search as a richer built-in intelligence:

Natural and Intelligent Web, where we will be able to use natural expression/language, and where based on our context and semantics, the web tools are able to suggest or find related information, where all your related information is intelligently connected allowing for smart ways to find, consume and share information and goods;

I agree with this, but I sense a tendency in Web2.0 writing to rely to much on a Web1.0 point of reference. Are we doing the same, relying on Web2.0 to describe Web3.0, or is Web3.0 going to be so different that these sorts of comparisons become unhelpful? What I'm getting at is this idea that Web3.0 is about better, smarter delivery of content through better interfaces, and smarter web sites that can also display on mobile. Maybe Web3.0 is where the whole browser model finally falls away? I say that more to get out my own mental rut, I'm quite sure we'll still be browsing happily on Web3.0, but 'What if?' questions can be a good springboard.

Nova Spivack described Web3.0 in his article on KurzweilAI.net as a broader collection of technologies, which I will summarize as:

  • Ubiquitous Connectivity - pervasive, always-on wireless networks
  • Network Computing - software as a service, grid, distributed computing, and utility computing
  • Open Technologies - open data, formats, and API
  • Open Identity - portable identity and reputation across networks, and across platforms, api, and services.
  • Intelligent Web - semantic web technology, intelligent agents
Notice that this Web3.0 view is in the same key as the Fifth Wave concepts I alluded to in an earlier blog post. I do think we've got all these memes describing one concept, the combination of a set of technologies captured in the combined effect of the above trends. I'd add, again, this idea of the merging of the physical world with the virtual world, and the coming explosion of 'stuff' talking on the internet that hasn't been there before...thermostats, light bulbs, cars, bathtubs, rain gauges, stop lights...who knows. I'd also add a fresh look at HCI in this new web era. I still think we talk about everything from the perspective of the browser, and that is one thing we'll need to shake off.

Good stuff from two good writers!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Mash-able Campus

So Web2.0 and Mobile2.0 together are a big swath of services and technology to consider. Really, these memes represent philosophy more than specific implementation details. In a previous post, I took a stab at some of the implications of these new ideas for college campuses.

One idea I'd like to throw out is the 'Mash-able Campus'. There is always an undercurrent in IT shops to create centralized content, but a college campus is different from an accounting firm. (That's not to say that mash-ups don't apply to more traditional enterprises, such as eBay). College life is a mix of academic, enterprise, social, creative, and political/activist interests. In many ways, IT on a college campus is a potential Web2.0/Mobile2.0 microcosm, where you can visit and experience all the ways that technology is changing and evolving. I don't think there's a better place to be for the geek-at-heart. So let's turn the traditional idea of centralized content on its head, and see what shakes out. How about adding parts of the campus experience as content and services that live within other applications on Web2.0? What would that look like? Are there any good examples already out there?

I'm interested, in the technology and information sources used by students in their day to day life. There are obvious answers, such as Facebook and MySpace, but what's beyond these social applications, and what will be possible in the future? Web2.0 would tell us that there won't be a central point for accessing everything, so perhaps the real strategy is to create services on campus that can be mixed in with the growing 'programmable web'?

Another question I have is around identity. How will Identity2.0, and the potential overlap between identity within the enterprise, and identity in the Web2.0 cloud play out? Dion Hinchcliffe gave a good summary of that issue:

This world of fragmented logins also has a lot of implications for the growing remix world of Web 2.0 mashups. These sites use remote Web services that require logins to access a user’s information on the remote Web site. The power and utility of these mashups are limited where there is no safe way to pass identity along to these others sites without providing a long list of user IDs and passwords.

I'm interested in things like OpenID, and how they work. A 'mash-able campus' would certainly need to participate in any evolving standards for Web2.0 identity.

Monday, January 1, 2007

iFind from MIT

iFind is an interesting project from MIT that mixes location awareness with social awareness. I found out about it from some folks at Telecommunications at ITS. It looks very similar to some of our 'Context Browser' ideas within TAP. Within our own group, there's a lot of concern about establishing baseline services, such as reliable location determination, reliable connectivity, and secure privacy. These are difficult to achieve! It's interesting to see iFind mixing GPS with the services within PlaceLab. This is something that our group is also leveraging. Specifially, Willi Schulz has been integrating PlaceLab with other methods of reporting location.

The iFind service is focused on the sharing of location with peers, and on the ability to instantly communicate and 'microcoordinate', planning meet-me locations on a campus map. I'm interested in finding out how much such a service would be used in a campus setting? Beyond the typical social networks, how could professional, or research interests be used to form 'groups'?

With so much concentration right now on social computing, and on location aware computing, it's no suprise that they are being combined. I tend to frame applications like this as being examples of context aware computing. I'm using a pretty liberal definition of context awareness, namely applications that understand the who, what, when, where, and why of a situation, and deliver the right services at the right time based on that knowledge. iFind is concentrating on the who and the where, but I'll throw out two ideas I'm working on as 'logical extensions'. First is the 'when' component, which at its simplest could be a basic awareness of schedule. There's some work going on within our group to mash up Google calendar, our own campus calendar service, and FaceBook events. If there was a central calendar for an individual or space on campus that looked at all of these potential elements, how could that be leveraged. One simple idea...if an individual had an agent that was location and schedule aware, it could look at events going on on campus, compare them to an individuals interests, social network, or other factors, and also look at that person's schedule for available time. Let's say a presentation was happening that fit a person's interest, and they had a few hours on campus free...why not add notification? That's just one idea I'm playing with.

Another idea, that fits into my previous post on Mobile2.0, is the realization that spaces are getting smarter. As applications become location aware, it follows that those applications can use search and discovery to find services in a particular location. What if you needed to find a color printer, or a soda machine that wasn't out of root beer?

There's also this idea of using your feet to browse the 'web'. What if locations were associated with links, or if scripts were available that associated with a certain place. When you go to a bus stop, you browse the bus schedule. When you walk in the library, a script checks for any books you've reserved, or for any fines you should pay (that could be annoying). In this sense, the web really does merge with the physical world.

Just a few rambling ideas. iFind is a reminder of how the world is changing, and what campuses might need to consider for the future. Happy New Year.

By the way, if you haven't dug Magic Sam...you gotta see this! Truly one of the greatest 'unkown' blues guys ever. It's a crying shame he passed so young.