For those who don’t know, Ulrichsweb is a rather large, very useful, but unfortunately expensive database of periodicals: journals, magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. The sort of information that is very useful to librarians, publishers, and writers. What I find bizarre is that there isn’t a free alternative, especially with such a highly skilled user base.
When I wanted access to this database a couple of days ago I had to travel all the way down to the British Library to access it! The University of Wolverhampton doesn’t have a subscription, and my Open University access is only useful on-site in Milton Keynes. Whilst I’m always happy to have a trip to London, it would obviously be more useful if it was freely available from home.
Delving into Ulrichsweb I’m always amazed at how many small and specialist magazines there are, journals that you are unlikely to come across unless you already know that they are there. My favourite find from this trip was the very interesting looking Artful Blogging. Too often we overlook usefully structured information in favour of the all powerful Google.
A web 2.0 approach to periodical directory/database seems like the obvious alternative to Ulrichsweb, especially as it would of particular use to librarians who already have access to so much of the useful information. Not only could such a database be made freely available, but it could be far more up-to-date; I found that many of the Ulrichsweb links no-longer worked, but rather than being able to change the records, they remained inaccurate.
There was a very interesting post over at Royal Pingdom about trends in current web terminology using data collected from Google’s Insights for Search (I mentioned it in my webometrics reddit but I don’t know how many of my blog readers also follow that). What I found most interesting was the slight decline of both “web 3.0″ and the “semantic web”, terms which are often used synonymously. It is also interesting to note, from looking at Google Insights for Search myself, that “Web 5.0″ is a term on the rise (albeit from a very low starting point): Could it be that the premature discussion of “Web 3.0″, “Semantic web”, and the over marketing of “Web 2.0″ has led to it all being labelled as hype by the public? It remains to be seen what effect it will have on future funding and marketing of the next generation of web services.
As for “Web 5.0″, I still think it was described best by Stuart(2007). I have already started to forget most of what I know in case they charge per terabyte of data we need to upload.
As the war in Gaza continues there is a lot of comment in the blogosphere about how the different sides are fighting to get support for their opinions on the web, the so-called war 2.0. Twitterings are flying, pictures are being uploaded to Flickr, videos are uploaded to YouTube, and of course Facebook has the necessary groups of support for both sides: Whilst on the one hand these new technologies give a voice to views and opinions that may not otherwise be heard (supposedly a good thing…although not always), in many ways it can turn a very bloody event into a spectator sport: you get to wear the colours of your ‘team’, shout abuse at opposing fans, even use your support as a means for self-promotion (e.g., ‘love your group about lots of people dying…come and join my group about lots of people dying’), and finally judge your position on the league table of Facebook group numbers. All from the comfort of your own home.
There was once a time when ‘web 2.0′ was a byword for innovation on the web, and if you wanted to know what was happening in the web 2.0 world there were few better places to start than Mashable. Those days are now long gone: web 2.0 is stale, and Mashable seems to be bulking out with an increasing number of fillers. Today I took Mashable out of my RSS feedreader.
Both Mashable and web 2.0 are victims of their own success. When social software was the preserve of the digerati it was an innovative environment; when the digerati’s parents joined it’s focus moved to becoming a stable environment. As Mashable gained a wider readership it gained a less discerning readership, happily chomping down whatever stories Mashable fed them.
I hadn’t checked my RSS feeds for a couple of days before today, so I only just found out that del.icio.us (or delicious.com as it now styles itself) turned five a couple of days ago. Whilst delicious has been a stalwart member of the web 2.0 movement, you can’t help but feel that it, and many of the other web 2.0 properties are a little bit stale. It is time for web 3.0 to enter the arena.
Whilst there have been lots of opinions on what web 3.0 is, none of them have seemed particularly appropriate to me, seemingly having more to do with a person’s desire to define web 3.0 than using web 3.0 to describe a change on the web. For me web 3.0 will be the widespread adoption of a feature that makes the web exciting again.
There was a time, a few years ago, when I was searching for sites that were adopting web 2.0 technologies. When I am excited enough to start searching for sites that are using a new set of technologies, then I will know what web 3.0 is.
A video worth watching if you want an overview of the web 2.0 debate.
Personally I found that I wanted to slap people on both sides of the debate; not everyone, just the usual suspects. Whilst you expect a certain arrogance from the anti-web 2.0 group, the arrogance of web 2.0 enthusiasts seems a little contradictory. The truth is somewhere between the extremes.
One of the reasons that I haven’t posted much over the last few days (besides the fact it was Easter), was that I have been trying to catch up on my ever-rising pile of unread books. After finishing Leadbeater’s “We-Think” I followed up with Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody“. Whilst both are enjoyable enough quick reads, by the end I find myself dying for some cynicism about the social empowered future; not the capitalist-led cynicism of Keen whose opinions have a Thatcherite air to them (a distinctly bad thing), but rather a cynicism about the empowering of the masses. Whilst both Leadbeater and Shirky point out that the future will be turbulent, they believe that the likelihood is that the overall outcome will be positive. I am not so convinced.
My more cynical vision of the future is based on a lack of belief in the good of democracy. Whilst democracy would seem to have provided the best solution for establishing a government so far, it has primarily worked because of its limitations rather than in spite of them. The more abhorrent opinions of the majority are, more often than not, curtailed by the representatives of democracy. If the social tools that are available open the way for a more direct democracy then the flood gates are likely to be opened to man’s rather nastier side.
When direct democracy is possible, is it possible to defend representative democracy on the basis that the majority have repulsive views? It seems more likely that a government, which will become increasingly vulnerable to the masses, will have to embrace the majority. To misquote: “The voters are never wrong. Repulsive, maybe, but never wrong”.
It is too late to put the genie back in the bottle, and I don’t think I particularly want to. I would, however, like a bit of a less evangelised future.
So I thought I would get in and define web 5.0: Web 5.0 is when quantum computing provides us the opportunity to upload ourselves to the web rather than just our data. Obviously there may be a few more technical stages before we can solve the planet’s overcrowding problem by living in Second Life 2.0, but what is the point of having a decimal point if we don’t use it? Dewey would be turning in his grave.
Whilst there will be those who say that people won’t want to be uploaded, I think it is equally likely that there are people who don’t want a fully integrated and documented life with every aspect detailed and tagged! Too often the blogosphere focuses on technological capabilities and how geeks would like to use the web, rather than how the mass want to use it.
Even if the web does develop in the way people predict, do these changes really necessitate new web numbers? If we accept that the move from web 1.0 to web 2.0 is a paradigm shift in the way many people view the web, then surely the introduction of the terms ‘web 3.0′ and ‘web 4.0′ require equally large changes in perception; the proposed definitions seem more like tinkering round the edges.