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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Web 3.0 - eLearning 3.0?

First let me apologize for talking about Web 3.0 and eLearning 3.0 when we don't really understand much less have digested eLearning 2.0, but there's so much buzz, I can't help myself.

Will Thalheimer posted about Web 3.0 and Learning where he is discussing what is being called Web 3.0. In particular he cites a recent NY Times article. But Web 3.0 has been getting lots of attention for a while now. The basic idea is to use the knowledge embedded within the web and include possible semantic web elements on top to begin to extract greater meaning so that we would be able to answer questions like:

"I'm looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of $3,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child."

Will (and I would agree) says that there will be big impact on learning if the web could answer these kinds of queries. However, Stephen Downes says:

OK, now, think about that. Do we ask questions like that? Well - no. First of all, we tend to forget to add the qualifiers (such as the budget and the child) when we ask. But even more importantly, we don't want to include some of this information in the question. It's an old rule - never tell the sales person what you're willing to spend. But also - I don't want to limit what I'm looking for. I'll spend more than $3000 if the trip is worth it, and I'll find a sitter for the child if I have to. What this means, then, is that whatever we're looking at, it won't be set up like a search or a query. It has to be much more subtle, much more interpretive, much more dynamic, much more immersive. The Web 3.0 people are talking about is the old Web 1.0 - we deliver content, you listen. But the next generation web will be more like Web 2.0 on steroids - the web itself will warp according my needs, my interests, my contributions.

I'm in the middle of grappling with similar questions for a particular client. They have very rich information with lots of meta-data and the question is not only what can we answer with the information, but what questions can we help to formulate. How much structure do we want to provide?

I think Stephen is onto something when he says that the web will warp itself to "my needs", "my interests" - but that's exactly the contextual stuff that he's saying that people often forget to add themselves. The web of the future will know that I'm not rich or poor (so $3000 is probably an okay number) and that I have an 11 year old. I shouldn't need to tell it again.

But there's also an aspect of the web providing suggestions that you wouldn't have thought to ask for ... and that's where I'm finding value today. Suggest potentially related results. Like more expensive vacations that are a little better. Or, if you'd only leave your child home you could go here.

I agree completely with Stephen that we are generally pretty bad about formulating questions. And I still believe this is a bigger stumbling block than formulating answers. See: finding answers and power of questions, better questions for learning professionals, and be an insanely great professional conference attendee. Because we aren't good at formulating questions, a big part of Web 3.0 has to be helping to:
find the right question to ask!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for launching my curiosity about Web 3.0. This post brought to mind the semantic web, intelligent agents, custom tutoring, and the convergence of AI in single player games with KM. I added a post this morning to my blog that ties together three of your recent posts.

Tony Karrer said...

Hi Tom,

You had some interesting comments in your blog post. I had a little bit of issue following the link, but it worked when I went to your base site:

I'm not sure that I'm understanding what you are saying though when you talk about issues of control and concerns about the collaborator.

I feel like we get tremendous value from the collaboration and, yes, it may require filtering and evaluation of the source - but that's universally true about any source of information. It's not necessarily better or worse because of Web 2.0. Web 3.0 theoretically improves things by extracting knowledge from multiple sources so you have a "combined source" but I'll still consider it a questionable source.

Can you maybe clarify this a bit for me? I think maybe I'm missing something important.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you say about evaluating potential collaborators, including how Web 3.0 won't make much of a difference over Web 2.0.

I'm suggesting there are four phases to realizing a fruitful collaboration -- which involve changing our questions. It's possible to get stuck qualifying collaborators and never get to the good stuff in phases 3 and 4.

I'm implying that Web 3.0 will make it easier and more likely to get beyond 2, into 3 and 4. That possibility needs another posting on my blog. (Sorry about the bad links)

Tony Karrer said...

Tom - I took a quick look at your post again and I don't see the four phases as clearly as they appear to be in your head - yet I would consider them to be pretty important for all of us looking at new types of collaboration.

I look forward to reading more from you on the topic - but if you happen to have something along the lines of "Four Phases of Collaboration" that you could point me to now - that would be great. :)

Anonymous said...

I created the new post that unpacks how Web 3.0 can enhance collaborations. All the permalinks on my blog got corrupted yesterday, so I moved my blog to Blogspot. The new posting is at:
I'll respond to your request for a clear explanation of the four phases soon.