Collective Memory

My son Julian points out in this post at his Exceler8ion blog that there is a technological side to Web 3.0 that I haven’t incorporated into newmediatheory.net.

To be fair, newmediatheory.net doesn’t feature the tech side of web 3.0 yet (things like artificial intelligence or automatic linking and categorization with other like databases).

On the human side of Web 3.0 I have instinctively worked my way to the point where I want to do something about the issues that concern me, but technologically I haven’t gotten beyond the 18th century in the sense I am just using the web as a print based publishing tool. The program I use is even called ‘Wordpress’ – a horseless carriage type name if I ever heard one. Early text books used illustrations as does my blog, but being able to embed videos edges me into the 20th century. The Hans Rosling video he mentions I have linked to previously is actually a 21st century or Web 3.0 way of using the technology to open up data and see what it means. Rosling’s overarching point is that our understanding of the world is outdated and that we can build a much more up to date understanding of the world if we can use the latest technology to mine the data we already have collected. Specifically, Rosling wants the UN and particularly governments to grant open access to the data they collect to build a more accurate understanding how health and wealth propagate and are interrelated. It is interesting that the public is prevented from using the data that its money has amassed – something I think will change when this kind of restrictive government behavior – more typical of the 17th century – comes under scrutiny. If you haven’t watched it is highly entertaining as well as informative.

But the web waits for no one. It is already moving on building databases without any conscious intention of doing so. Take flickr – the web based digital photo repository originally designed as a way to share photos and considered a prime example of a Web 2.0 application. (Julian says that Web 2.0 is about conversation) In the video embedded below Microsoft researcher Blaise Aguera y Arcas calls it a collective memory and demonstrates how individual photos taken at random and stored in the same place can be woven together so that the result is much greater than the sum of the parts. Any collection of data amassed for whatever purpose can be made to yield new understandings with the right software technology.


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