Monday, July 08, 2013

What will your stuff say about you?

Image from Berytech Community
I recently attended a presentation on Web 4.0 and the Future of Learning. I wondered if there was a typo in the program because I didn’t know the World Wide Web had moved on to Web 3.0… and now 4.0?

Briefly, here’s what I found out:

Web 1.0 was developed in the 1990s. This stage of the web is known as the “read only” web, characterized by static HTML pages and simple hyperlinks for navigation, easily connecting related information.

Web 2.0 is known as the "read-write" web or the social web. It connects people to each other through services such as Facebook and blogs.

In about 2007 Web 3.0 began to emerge. It is known as the semantic web as it “interprets” knowledge. Web sites and browsers work together to routinely gather information about users and give us customized information. Think of how Amazon makes recommendations based on our purchase history.

Web 4.0 is predicted to be here in a few years. It will be the intelligent web; ubiquitous and symbiotic and will anticipate what you need. Our stuff will talk to our other stuff. For example, your refrigerator will notice when the milk is getting low and contact the grocery store to put it in your cart. (It might be a good idea if my bathroom scales were to talk to my refrigerator.)

What will this mean for libraries?

As ebook vendors work with libraries to develop reasonable virtual borrowing models, perhaps circulation of printed books will be as easy as just going to the library and picking it up – or borrowing it from your neighbor. (Yes, I believe we will still have print books that people will want to borrow rather than purchase their own – whether or not they are available in digital format.)

What if our library card talked to a book’s multifunctional barcode label and reported to the library’s circulation system? What if the transfer of books (print and electronic) between patrons could be tracked reliably like a package making its way across the country from online seller to buyer? It would be convenient for patrons and libraries alike. And, as with all new technologies, it would create new challenges.

We are now putting more and more trust in our mobile devices and cloud services with apps that sync information among all of our various devices. With our permission, our stuff is already talking to our other stuff.

But can they be trusted? My Android phone does not always display Outlook calendar events to which I have invited others. So is that my fault when I don’t attend meetings that I have called?

Regardless of how the future plays out, the library’s core mission and values will remain the same. We will continue to be concerned about patron privacy and providing free access to relevant information to meet its community’s evolving information needs.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

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