“Building New Synapses for the Global Brain”
The post title above sums up what is being delivered with a new offering, Metaweb, and is a quote by (and contained within) Tim O’Reilly’s very cogent overview of its core essence (John Markoff’s New York Times article is here).
As you’re well aware if you read this blog, my synapses fire like crazy as I connect the dots. What excites me to no end about the acceleration of the Internet-as-a-platform and the collective consciousness of humankind being connected, is the web of interconnected knowledge being built so that billions of dots can be connected through our collective effort. There just haven’t been a lot of tools available for us to easily and seamlessly connect disparate pieces of information that alone, have no apparent connection, but once connected clearly show a whole, a pattern, or some previously unforeseen new value.
I am absolutely convinced that we’re on the cusp of a major evolutionary leap in knowledge, creativity, innovation and social connection (and this post of mine sums up a bit of my excitement). But we need our “smart” machines (i.e., computers) to take the some of the burden off of our inefficient, cumbersome, laborious connecting of dots and our increasingly vain attempts to see and understand it all. It’s just not possible anymore as information exponentially increases.
In the same way that the plow, the cotton gin, assembly lines, factory automation, transportation, distribution and other systemic, machine-based systems allowed us to produce more, perform significantly more work and further specialize by amplifying our meager abilities, having methods for humans to make connections that machines could later use will jumpstart computer’s capabilities to make new, more likely connections for us or at least present top possibilities in a more efficient manner.
On a daily basis I invest HOURS in staying on top of everything I can on the Internet and Web. It’s one reason I’m now shunning TV, radio and many books. The issue? Even all that time invested can’t begin to ensure that I see it all.
Case in point: yesterday’s post about JumpTV. I’m fairly on top of the innovation and offerings in the Internet TV space but hadn’t heard of them. Why is that? They were probably on a list somewhere but I glossed over it. In fact, I’ve been peripherally aware of Metaweb and a one sentence description of what they were up to (it was something about the Semantic Web and I thought, “Oh yeah…and they’re going to boil-the-ocean right after they ship Metaweb“) so I ignored it until today when more information was released.
One of my favorite shows from the past was James Burke‘s BBC Connections. There was one show I vaguely remember where he was describing all of these VERY different inventions, processes, discoveries that all led up to…the clock. Each one on the surface made NO sense at all…but when Burke connected them all every single disparate piece made perfect sense and the viewer could instantly see that the clock wouldn’t have been invented had it not been for each of them!
The Metaweb holds the promise (though note my emphasis on “promise”) of all connected humankind weaving a tapestry of connections that more and more of us will be able to stand back and say, “Hmmm….I see a pattern here” and thus be able to invent ever higher value, solve deeper and more profound problems and take us all to places we can’t yet imagine.