xWeb

Naming things is important. It’s easier to say “web 2.0″ than “participative, fragmented content, conversation-driven web”. Unfortunately, names give shape to concepts that are often imprecise. And, once named, marketers, consultants, and buzzwords galore come running to “monetize the synergistic affordances of web 2.0 [or whatever]” Earlier today I caught a twitter post about “crowdsourcing the longtail of training content”. ugh. Sometimes words hurt more than they help.

Still, naming things can help to mark a turning point. Or a good name can draw attention to changes and give them a defined form that can be used to capture significant trends. Web 2.0 was one such turning point. In the field of learning, Stephen Downes’ elearning 2.0 article was another.

We are now at a period where technological advancements are beginning to coalesce into something more definitive than a random collection of innovations like FourSquare, semantic web, and augmented reality.

Steve Wheeler kicked off a conversation last week with his presentation on web 3.0. Downes replied suggesting Web X (for web eXtended) would be a good title. A great term – but unfortunately, it sounds like web ex – the online meeting vendor. We need another term. I’ve been thinking about xWeb. But my reaching for clever words was not in isolation. Today Rita Kopp posted on the eXtended Web. Like the development of the terms PLE, connectivism, elearning 2.0, and even web 2.0, xWeb doesn’t represent novel insights. Instead, it gives form to a topic that many people are grappling to define.

What is the xWeb?

xWeb is the utilization of smart, structured data drawn from our physical and virtual interactions and identities to extend our capacity to be known by others and by systems.

This is an imprecise definition, but it’s a start. Many elements are involved, as xWeb builds on previous iterations of the web/web 2.0. What is unique with xWeb is the way in which it will transform how we work, learn, and interact with each other and with information. At one level, it is a maturation of the web – a natural extension of current trends with technology and the internet. At another level, it involves a negotiation of two key questions that I continue to grapple with:
1. What does technology do better than people?
2. What do people do better than technology?

With xWeb, we are rethinking what we have to do as people and starting to rely on what technology does better than we possibly could.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to capture the nature of the change around technology. I’ve blogged some of those thoughts here (and on elearnspace), included others in presentations and papers, and captured others on delicious.

Some of the recurring themes:
augmentation
aggregation
semantic web
location-based services (geoweb)
data overlay
smart information
visualization
social media
open data and data in general
Internet of things
cloud computing
mobile technologies
Analytics and monitoring

And, to that list, we could add filtering, recommender systems, distributed “like this” tools, annotation tools (diigo), wearable computing, and so on.

These comprise the key themes at the centre of the xWeb:

1. The physical and virtual worlds are blurring – as evidenced by augmented reality browsers (Layar) and services like Yelp and Foursquare
2. Data is being laid on top of physical objects (digital graffiti and contextual/historical overlays as well as the 3D web)
3. Data is becoming more intelligent – rather than simply pointing to other sources (as with urls), data is now beginning to quantify the nature of that connection.
4. Physical objects are projecting their presence into the digital (the internet of things)
5. Data is increasingly stored in the cloud, permitting better access across a range of devices
6. Data is increasingly open, permitting new/novel combinations by end users…Google maps was one of the first examples of the power of openness, many examples have followed (including open street maps)
7. The abundance of open data, new data sources (social media, sensors) and numerous data uses (overlay, digital graffiti, and social networks) sets the stage for advanced analytics about end users or the current state of mind in a society (such as Twitter trends). Connections mean things. As connections between people, people and data, and data/data become more abundant and explicit, we can gain new insights into what people are thinking and how/why they are acting.
8. Smarter data with better analysis sets the stage for personalization and adaptation of content/socialization/product provision.
9. Data+analysis+personalization requires the formation of predictive computation: “because you are in this demographic, like these types of movies, are friends with these people, you will like this particular coffee maker”. Instead of searching for data, data finds us. In a sense, data knows us.

19 Responses to “xWeb”

  1. Ken Anderson says:

    The birth of the iWeb

    1. xWeb is the utilization of smart, structured data drawn from our physical and virtual interactions and identities to extend our capacity to be known by others and by systems.

    2. As connections between people, people and data, and data/data become more abundant and explicit, we can gain new insights into what people are thinking and how/why they are acting.

    3. Instead of searching for data, data finds us. In a sense, data knows us.

    How about calling it the I-Web or iWeb, as in Identity-Web, since it seems that the web is now able to ‘know’ my identity, predict my behaviour, know what I am thinking and why I am acting the way I do? The web-form ought to be a real boon to the marketers and consultants that want to monetize our identities. Are we not already seeing this, with Facebook?

    I am afraid that the eye-Web is watching me!

  2. Ken Anderson says:

    ooppps. forgot that Apple is all about i.

    It will have to be eye-Web then…..

  3. gsiemens says:

    eye-web it is then!

    the way in which we are “known” by marketers is a big concern. I’m involved in organizing a conference on learning analytics, and the ethics of data collection/use are significant. It’s easy to get caught up in the “wow, this is neat!” stuff….but for learning in particular, clarity is needed about what is being collected, why, and what will be done with it.

  4. Alan Levine says:

    Web 2.0 spent a lot of effort differentiating itself from Web 1.0 — is xWeb more of an extension/outgrowth/evolution?

    and wlil it be maintained by X-Men (and X-Women)?

  5. [...] With xWeb, we are rethinking what we have to do as people and starting to rely on what technology does better than we possibly could. via connectivism.ca [...]

  6. gsiemens says:

    Hi Alan – I thought I had escaped the Levine-taunt by not presenting a duality!

    obviously in the xweb there will be no gender – it is too broad a classification scheme to be useful, as people exhibit both male/female attributes. we won’t even be people. we will be entities that are compiled to best meet the needs of a particular marketer. so, no x-men/x-women dichotomy for you!

    George

    • elsebet jakobsen says:

      Sounds like back to the 70-ies – brain-wash, political influence and so on – been there done that – we should know better when something like “are you born in xxxx – take this survey” or “others looked at these items” pops up. Kids grown up with the new media are super critical – they are difficult to reach as customers – enviromental awareness and so on – or unpredictable trendsurfers.
      how does all this influence us – we are what we experienced (old freud) – or we are what we experience right now !
      eye-net is now – how do we live with that – how do I teach my students what it is all about?? – and most important that there is much more to it ? this wonderful thing that keeps us all connected – is easily disposed as quite see-through for the digital generations, who use it very selectively in their own way!
      elsebet

    • Would this be reflective of the virtual nodes that we have all become, no feelings, no emotions, but “values” that could be added to the marketers?

  7. Jon H. says:

    Whatever it comes to be called, and however it is defined, the accumulated capabilities are likely to result in a dynamic two-way (or more) flow between people, ideas, information and purpose / objectives. The ingredients that will make that work, or not, will, I think, be more and more sociological and structural in nature than technological .. but I am speaking in a context that stretches over a decent period of time .. not months.

  8. Ulop says:

    How about the o-Web (O-Web) in honour of George (Orwell, that is). The idea that data will be seeking me because the system has analyzed all of my behaviours and knows what I am thinking seems very Orwellian (1984).

  9. [...] xWeb « Connectivism – Annotated [...]

  10. minh says:

    weX – as in i have been surfing the weX

    :D

  11. I think the fun is in the interations between elements of my PLE/ web interation space which are external to me and which aim to make it seem as if the world cares. I walk into my hotel room and the TV says welcome Laurence Cuffe. A neet trick, first time around. I can imagine an inteligent bus/taxi company scraping tweets to make sure that the bus comes when I get to the bus stop etc. All neet tricks. But I think there is a downside as well, there is a risk of balkanizing the human experience to the point where we all live in a world space which affirms our own views and never dissents.

  12. In response to Laurence Cuffe. Have to agree that most of the “knowing” evidenced in the Personal Junk Mail and Personal Telemarketing (PJM/PTM) I “experience” is just marketing. Not of consequence. It’s someone else’s simulation of me being known to them to play familiar with my data self and hope my real self (no, let’s not visit that discussion) will be tricked into playing along. It’s basic sales trickery that works because people allow it to work.

    In a perfect world, this faux-familiarity will stop working when it overplays itself. Or maybe when enough of us adopt a sense mercy towards the simple mistakes of others in a world where everything is recorded and shamelessly replayed to the delight of our sometimes nasty selves.

    I think people will tire of WebX (or whatever). The meeting of my every need. Every curiosity reduced to predictive cheese spread (not even Green Cheese, as I’ll be sternly reminded). Shame to spend so much brain power pounding the fun out of it all. A world where everyone knows everything—yikes!

  13. [...] tradotto da xWeb di George [...]

  14. The italian translation of your post is here: http://www.columba.it/2010/10/04/xweb/
    I hope it’s not hurting you.