ALA Midwinter Conference: Web What.0?

It wasn’t all that long ago that Infopeople instructors helped introduce many of us to Web 2.0. Our colleagues at OCLC this afternoon upped the ante by hosting “From Linking to Thinking: How We’ll Live When Information Surrounds Us” at the American Library Association (ALA) 2009 Midwinter Conference here in Denver.
Featuring presentations and a spirited yet collegial debate by David Weinberger (author of Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder) and Nova Spivack (founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based technology venture Radar Networks and the project), the session featured plenty of predictions of how Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 are going to develop over the next two decades and lead to the development of online artificial intelligence.
For those of us involved in training programs for library staff, members, and guests, the picture is exciting, dynamic, and more than a bit daunting. We’re going to be working even harder than we already are to keep up with the expanding nature of information retrieval/sharing through online social networks so we can help our colleagues in libraries meet library users’ evolving needs. And, Weinberger asserts, we are going to have to do it together through the sort of group efforts and collaborations which produce tools including Wikipedia.
Even the sort of innovations we saw through the daylong “Mashup the Library” conference at Santa Clara University last spring already seem familiar in comparison to what Spivack described during his “Library 3.0” presentation this afternoon. Drawing from material posted online a couple of months ago, he provided a concise decade-by-decade summary of the continuing evolution of the Web: 1980-1990, the PC era; 1990-2000, Web 1.0; 2000-2010, Web 2.0; 2010-2020, Web 3.0; and 2020-2030, Web 4.0, culminating in the “intelligent web.” Then he described some of the work being done through, a new, free service which allows users to “collect online content—videos, photos, articles, Web pages, products—and bring it all together by topic, so you can have it in one place and share it with anyone you want” in the latest expansion of social networking and information retrieval and sharing.
“The Web literally is becoming the nervous system of the planet, and like any nervous system, it doesn’t merely take input, it generates output,” he said in an interview included in an OCLC brochure given to participants at this afternoon’s session. “This is truly as if our species is evolving to a new level of collective intelligence.”
Key roles to be played by libraries in this setting, Spivack suggested to his audience, include “digitizing everything”; placing increased effort into finding, not searching; and asking whether questions about libraries’ relevancy should be rephrased to become questions about how libraries might best market what they do so they can effectively meet user’s needs as we move toward a Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 world.

3 thoughts on “ALA Midwinter Conference: Web What.0?

  1. Really sorry that a brief blog piece couldn’t possibly capture the intricacy and nuances of all that was discussed during that three-hour session. The fact remains that what Weinberger and Spivack are observing and predicting–and the way the audience responded–convinced me that this is something worth watching and embracing. The combination of geotagging technology, evolving mobile device technology, and our innate desire to collaborate and form communities is leading to Web 3.0 and beyond, and I think it’s going to continue to revolutionize the way we think, communicate, collaborate, and simply interact with all around us.

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