It's a Slippery, Scintillating World
Courtesy of Lindsey Dawson.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the web? Well, take a deep breath. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
This week I sat in on a seminar presented by Paul Reynolds (pictured). You’ve seen him on TV3’s breakfast show where he turns up on Wednesdays to talk about the never-ending stream of new gizmos available for us to play with.
Paul’s mind scopes wide and high, but he speaks in plain language. He is passionate about the need for us to recognise that we’re in the midst of “creating a revolution from sand”. Silicon, that is. And a slip-sliding sort of world it is.
We need to be leading the way for our kids, he cautions. They may be quicker than us at engaging with the web, but they need guidance too. Which means that we all have to know what’s going on. The web is here for all time (well, given an electricity supply) – so very omnipresent that it has become ordinary. To the point where, as he succinctly puts it, “it you don’t get it, you’re dicked.”
In three engaging hours he swept through the growing power of the developing internet universe. Currently, as you may already know, we’re in a stage of development known as Web 2 – which is all about information sharing (as in Bebo and Facebook and this website, too). Paul calls it “the power of the crowd”.
But coming up within the next decade is the Semantic Web, in which internet power will become so vast, so fast, so interconnected and so intuitive that it will understand what you want to know online before you’ve barely even formulated a request.
Start reading about this stuff, as I did after the seminar, and you are confronted with oodles of geek-speak. Heavy with acronyms such as GRDDL (Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages), and OWL (Web Ontology Language), it is utterly beyond me. But the big bottom line is: machines are beginning to think for themselves.
It will be wonderful. It will be dangerous. And it’s coming, ready or not.
Paul’s own business is McGovern Online. Check it out for more info, and to browse the intriguing stuff on his blog.
Meanwhile here are a few great sites for now that Paul recommends. Mosey on over there and enjoy them too.
- There’s lots of entertainment at a site called Slide Share . It’s a place where people freely share their slide shows and many varied and curious themes are on show. Tell train enthusiasts in your household about the one called World Trains.
- If you treasure your shelves of books you can catalogue them online at a site called Library Thing. The idea is to be part of the world's largest book club. Apparently you can find people with eerily similar tastes.
- Auckland Museum’s site has a great new corner called Memory Maker where you can make your own little World War 1 video by dragging and dropping old movie clips and mixing them with a range of sound effects and music. It’s easy and great fun, and good for kids to play with too.
- Newspapers are struggling to create interactive internet news sites at the same time as they keep on using printing ink. England’s Guardian newspaper has one of the best sites around. Hours of good stimulation to be had there – full of blogs, podcasts and video clips as well as written news.
- If you like to keep learning throughout life, you can make use of the little known educational part of the iTunes website. iTunes U delivers easy, 24/7 access to educational content from hundreds of top colleges, universities, and educationally focused organizations across America.
- But the even easier way to find crackerjack lectures and mind-boggling talks is to drop into the TED website , short for technology, entertainment, design. Freely available here are funny, dazzling, mind-blowing presentations by some of the world’s most talented people. When they are invited to speak at TED conferences, the brief merely demands of them that they give the best speech of their life, in 18 minutes. No pressure. Just stacks of brilliance.
Of course, in my own life, brilliance is a long time coming. It’s taken me a couple of hours to write this because I kept on going into all those sites above and doodling around inside them – especially at TED. Once you start watching their videos you just can’t stop.
I’m behind on gizmos too. “Don’t you have a GPS yet?” someone asked me the other day. I did see a stack of them in my local Vodafone store the other day and asked how much they were. $699! I’m sure there are cheaper ones around but, you know, I quite like maps. Sometimes it’s quite reassuring to work things out on paper, the 20th century way.
By Lindsey Dawson