Archive for May, 2006|Monthly archive page

IBM: The ‘next big thing’ no longer exists | CNET News.com

What great quote to star my WordPress/Hyperwords blog with. From a big guy at IBM:

"If you're looking for the next big thing, stop looking. There's no such thing as the next big thing," he added.

IBM: The 'next big thing' no longer exists | CNET News.com

It sounds a bit like a combination of two classic quotes:

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the US Office of Patents 1899.

&

"I think there is a world market for about five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM 1943

Which is great news! Just like the announcement right before 1900 that every discovery in science had been made heralded a golden age in science, I guess we are about to see a golden age of invention!

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Web History & Future

A short commentary on the web and where & how it can develop.

The World Wide Web was born in the summer of 1991, 15 years ago. Since then it has grown to feature billions of pages, though the basic web-browser has not changed much beyond adding support for more specifications as to how the page should look and the carrier of the web, the Internet, has gotten much much faster.

The future

The future of the web is discussed far and wide. A main theme is of course how the web will become increasingly accessible on mobile devices and how it will get faster and feature richer content, like more video. Which can be summed up as smaller, faster and richer.

But what about the web itself, how we interact with it? For this this instinctively turn to science fiction. For example, we turn to Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report', zooming around a web of information, calling up bits of data by simply speaking to the computer. He flicks around video files and compares and contrasts images as he also skims over selections of text.

It's energizing to watch, even though we can't follow everything he does or how he does it. But we want to be able to work like this, he is not trudging through the information, he is dancing through it, around, it, with it. Almost swimming in it.

But how to get there?

When it comes to building this future generation web (of course, the future is something we are likely to bump into any time now) voices are raised in favor of better voice recognition technology, better artificial intelligence (AI), faster graphic cards, more bandwidth.

All of which will likely be useful. Better voice recognition coupled with better AI will contribute to a more productive work environment. But is somehow misses some of the magic of interactive computing.

Let me explain what I feel here: When you are playing a computer game, say a historical battle game where you run around with your squad and a rifle, it is very cool to speak commands to AI units and have them act intelligently. But you still have to navigate your soldier through the trials of battle. We could undoubtedly build a 'game' where you simply speak to the computer 'take that hill' and your character would do it while go you make yourself a cup of tea.

But we don't, it would take away the magic of the experience, it would be absurd. I believe that it's the same of more productive interactive computing.

The experience of being able to fluidly interact with your information, 'dance' like characters in science fiction movies, run like the wind and achieve objectives in games, is important.

To truly be a 'knowledge worker' means to develop deep understanding of your work and the environment in which your work takes place, not simply to copy and paste other's ideas, follow other people's paths.
 
Baby steps. To interact with something all you need to do is build a simple vocabulary on top of a simple grammar, like "do this with that", the basic way we use computers today. In some applications this can grow to become quite a rich interaction, but mostly in games.

On the web, the basic interactions are limited to "follow this link" when you click and a link and "show search results based on these keywords" when you search.

That's it.

How about "look up this selection up in wikipedia" or maybe "look up this selection in the Internet Movie Database" or in a dictionary or a glossary or even translate it?

How about "print selection" or "go to the default page of this selection (using Google Lucky, good for company and product names)" or even, 'email this text immediately, with the URL included". Or "blog this" or "search for this in blogs'…

This is what we are doing with Hyperwords, giving you this simple set of initial interaction commands.

Today you can see it as a simple web utility. But also the beginning of a true revolution, the fully interactive web where you you no longer only follow the paths of others (hand-made links) but you are free to explore, compare, contrast, learn, lean around corners, see entirely new insights. Grow in whole new ways.

This is the beginning of true freedom to be informed.

(but no, links won't become obsolete, they just won't be the only way of getting around)