THE 'X" FACTOR
Once again the jargon (who calls it what) is taking control of the debate, but the general consensus seems to be that the Web has developed from the 'Reading' Web, to the 'Contributing' web and is now moving towards the 'Linked Data' web. Apparently data will increasingly be created, linked and managed by 'services' rather than the individual. 'Intelligent Search' and 'Behavioural Advertising' will be the new buzz words. Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and Yahoo Answers is now turning her hand to the 'product design' of a Web service named "Hunch" . The site explains:
“……..It starts by Hunch getting to know you: what do you like; how do you think; who are you? Then, Hunch builds a taste profile mapping your unique tastes and preferences to the people, places and things all around you which you might like. The result is great recommendations that are customized just for you….”
Of course it conveniently plays down the benefits for Hunch .Whatever its nomenclature, the scariest part about this 'X' web is the loss of privacy it heralds. Currently we have the choice of privacy settings on most of the social media websites to block 'stranger' access to our private data,(that's if we can locate them amongst all the mumbo jumbo and associated hype). Of equal concern is the absence of sophisticated critical literacy in many of the future users.
"......With information dissemination, esp via the Web comes interpretation, bias and decontextualisation …… Allied with the electronic dissemination of information comes responsibility as well, and a huge one at that - appropriate use, duty of care, ethics, all these go way beyond the school. In a world where being able to access, interpret and use information at the point of need for Joe citizen is the single most important skill set we can give our children alongside traditional literacy and numeracy. We have music specialists, art specialists, sports specialists etc. but there are no information specialists...."
Barbara Combes, Lecturer, School of Computer and Security Science Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia,
OZTL_NET listserv 2010
With Google and other major players spending billions on software and apps for the cell phone user, the 'mobile' phone (as we refer to it in Australia) is set to become the 'new age' laptop or mobile computer, the portable web, the portable PLE. So in answer to the question "Which technology will become obsolete?", I guess it won't be that of the cell phone. Google's no fool and they've twigged to the fact that cell phone ownership eclipses computer ownership, so it makes financial sense for more 'toys' to be accessible via the phone portal. The advertising promotes this development as providing greater equity through wider access. The data on the apps can all be linked via the Google databases of course and its all hidden behind the altruistic mask Google unconvincingly tries to wear.
"Mr. Google" Eric Schmidt explains what Web X is and incidentally brushes off Web 2.0 as simply a marketing term.
The Google CEO summarises Web X thus:
1. a different way of building applications
2. defined as relatively small applications pieced together
3. available in the cloud
4. run on any device (inference=mobile phones)
6. distributed virally through social networks
7. solves problems easily
8. faster download
Another Google Supremo Dr.V.G.Cerf who is otherwise titled 'the Google evangelist' does his best to reassure us that Google has only the interests of the consumer at heart. After all, we consumers want to be 'in control' of advertising data to which we're exposed don't we ? Google is simply providing the context whereby we can access that data. (Hmmmm) One example he provides is 'smart television sets' where a consumer can simply 'mouse around' and be offered intuitive suggestions for spending even more money. Perhaps I'd like to purchase a book about Brad Pitt - this is surely what I had in mind when I downloaded "Troy" ? My purpose couldn't simply have been to watch the movie could it ?
The newly coined term "Googleware" which is a marriage of software and hardware really provides a more accurate description of Web X for me as the 'business web' insidiously hidden beheath the mantle of the term 'customisable' which serves to reassure us that control rests in the consumer's hands.
....to be continued....