Awasu » People are starting to get it!
Friday 3rd March 2006 3:18 PM [General]

We've had some minor Internet connectivity problems over the past 24 hours and were offline for a while :cry: but once I got back online, I was deluged with a veritable surge of really thought-provoking stuff to read.

This one I just had to write about:

The plan is simple: extend Wikipedia to allow users to add machine-readable content, export the earth’s knowledge to RDF, enable powerful queries against it, re-use it in external applications, and save the world in the process.

Now, if you're not familiar with what Wikipedia or RDF are, you may not realize the enormous implications of this (and especially for programs like Awasu :-)).

Wikipedia is a massive online encyclopedia maintained and managed by anyone and everyone on the planet and while it has its problems, it's truly an amazing work in progress, gathering and recording our global collective knowledge.

And RDF is a type of XML specifically designed for managing knowledge although to be honest, that doesn't really matter. The important thing is that it's XML i.e. something that computers can understand.

Put these things together and what do you get? A means for information to get shoveled into the Wikipedia other than by humans manually editing a page. And a way of getting it out other than going to a web page.

Just imagine an enormous army of computers around the globe, running 24x7 shunting information between each other and into and out of the Wikipedia (or any other similar repository). One of the major hurdles computer intelligence has always faced has been building a base of accumulated knowledge, from the things that you and I just take as being blindingly obvious but a computer has to be "taught" (e.g. humans have two legs, you can't eat a colour, elephants don't yodel) and up. This could go a long way to helping with this.

But now add blogjects (PDF) (objects that blog) to the mix. It's a silly name and on the surface a silly idea but it's actually quite deep.

The most peculiar characteristic of Blogjects is that they participate in the exchange of ideas. Blogjects don’t just publish, they circulate conversations. ... A Blogject can start a conversation with something as simple as an aggregation of levels of pollutants in groundwater. If this conversation is maintained and made consequential through hourly RSS feeds and visualizations of that same routine data, this Blogject is going to get some trackback.

Lots and lots of ordinary objects, talking to each other. And we're not talking about your toaster talking to your fridge, no sir, it's your car talking to traffic monitoring stations to get details about the road ahead, or sensors in your lawn talking to the local weather channel.

Bleeker goes on to describe some characteristics of blogjects:

  • Blogjects track and trace where they are and where they’ve been;
  • Blogjects have self-contained (embedded) histories of their encounters and experiences
  • Blogjects always have some form of agency — they can foment action and participate; they have an assertive voice within the social web.

… Agency is perhaps the most provocative aspect of the Blogject feature set. Agency is about having an ability to foment action, to be decisive and articulate, to foment action.

Now, I've always held that a large component of intelligence is the ability to draw on past experiences to decide what to do next (his first two points), but his third point is particularly interesting.

Agency sounds awfully like Awasu's channel hooks :-). You know, those things that you attach to channels that can "monitor the information as it comes in, analyze it and respond to it" :-). Awasu fits in so nicely into all of this, hooking into the transport system for information, watching what's going on and using it to decide what to do next.

I've already been scolded today for neglecting the PR side of Awasu so I really need to haul my butt into gear and start positioning Awasu as a browser for the Semantic Web. I could write much more about this but I'm already insanely late for another engagement so just talk amongst yourselves for the moment until I can get back onto this.

This is going to be huge.

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