This John Markoff piece in Sunday’s NY Times (reg. req’d) resurrects the elusive goal of the “semantic Web” with a bit of a twist, and un-self consciously calls it “Web 3.0.” Nonetheless the article is interesting, suggesting how users (without knowing it) and a range of companies (e.g., Radar Networks) are actively working to make it easier to retrieve more relevant information online (Local is the example used by Markoff):
[T]he Holy Grail for developers of the semantic Web is to build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question 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.”
This is the Internet as a globally accessible database that can be accessed in an intuitive way by regular people. In a certain way this all comes down to two things: helping machines get more information out and in front of people and query disambiguation — understanding user intent.
But of course nothing ever goes exactly as planned and this concept has been around a long time. Clearly information retrieval will get better and more complete over time. When it comes to local, there’s still a tremendous amount of data that needs to be “uploaded” and organized before Markoff’s question can be fully answered — though an experienced human can answer the question now.
One of the key developments for the next-generation of Internet services and companies — whatever it and they look like — is dealing with the paradox of choice. There’s already too much information online, yet also not enough (as with local). What I need is not 100 or 1,000 new choices, but 10-15 (at most) that are right for me or otherwise meet my criteria.