Friday, October 19, 2007

Nova Spivack, Radar Networks and Twine

Today at the popular Web 2.0 Summit, Radar Networks, founded by Web visionary Nova Spivack, announced the invite-beta of Twine, "a new service that gives users a smarter way to share, organize, and find information with people they trust. Use Twine to better leverage and contribute to the collective intelligence of your friends, colleagues, groups and teams. Twine ties it all together."

For almost a year now I have been logging on to Nova Spivack's Blog "Minding the Planet"and watching the Radar Networks web site for news regarding new Semantic Web applications reportedly under construction. It is exciting to finally see some details of their work which, I believe can be very useful in my own understanding of where the next generation of the Web is moving. Consequently, I have signed up to be invited to the beta testing phase for this project.

Twine is the first Semantic Web application Radar Networks has announced and "is one of the first mainstream applications of the Semantic Web, or what is sometimes referred to as Web 3.0," according to the "about" Twine web page. More detail about the Twine announcement is available on the Radar Networks Press web page that readers may be interested in. Below are a few clips from the major headings.

"Knowledge Networking
Twine provides a smarter way for people to leverage and contribute to the combined brainpower of their relationships...."

"Sharing and Collaboration
Twine helps people band together to share, organize and find information and knowledge around common interests and goals...."

"Twine is Smart
Twine is unique because it understands the meaning of information and relationships and automatically helps to organize and connect related items...."

"Twine 'ties it all together'
Twine pools and connects all types of information in one convenient online location, including contacts, email, bookmarks, RSS feeds, documents, photos, videos, news, products, discussions, notes, and anything else. Users can also author information directly in Twine like they do in weblogs and wikis. Twine is designed to become the center of a user’s digital life."

"The Start of Web 3.0
“Web 3.0 is best-defined as the coming decade of the Web, during which time semantic technologies will help to transform the Web from a global file-server into something that is more like a worldwide database. By making information more machine-understandable, connected and reusable, the Semantic Web will enable software and websites to grow smarter,” said Spivack. “Yahoo! was the leader of Web 1.0. Google is the leader of Web 2.0. We don’t yet know who will be the leader of Web 3.0. It’s a bold new frontier, but Twine is a strong first step, and we’re very excited about it.”

Friday, October 05, 2007

One Laptop Per Child - Education and GeoNetworking

Recently at a meeting with some friends we talked about the One Laptop Per Child (O.L.P.C) initiative designed to provide low cost rugged laptops to two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries. Interestingly, even though I have been following news of the project development for the past few years, my friends were not familiar with it.
(Photo courtesy of the FuseProject)

Yesterday David Pogue wrote a very good article about the OLPC initiative in the New York Times and I decided to send it to my friends and also post it here.

Personally, I believe this is one of the most important educational projects being developed in the world today that should have exponentially increasing and long range positive social/environmental and GeoNetworking implications in the future.

On the OLPC Wiki page Nicholas Negroponte who founded the project at M.I.T, is quoted, "It's an education project, not a laptop project." The goal of OLPC "is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves."

Pogue comments that "The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough — some of them not available on any other laptop, for $400 or $4,000." He also notes that it consumes very little battery electricity and can be charged by solar or a pull cord, and to replace the battery only costs $10. The article lists many other features, including "...both regular wireless Internet connections and something called mesh networking, which means that all the laptops see each other, instantly, without any setup — even when there’s no Internet connection."

A new program to help distribute the laptops is available for two weeks in November. Called "Give 1, Get 1" you pay for two laptops and one is sent to a student in a poor country and one to a child in your own family. Or you can also donate the second laptop to a child in a developing nation.

It will be interesting to follow the developments that may soon connect the OLPC laptops to Social Networking, Semantic Web search opportunities and GeoWeb projects like Google Earth.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New GeoWeb - Environment, Discussion and Sierra Club projects

Recently several interesting new projects using GeoWeb/Geospatial concepts that are "Place Based and (somewhat) Time Based" have come to my attention. I will attempt to give my general analysis of how projects like the following can not only bring attention to environmental issues of today, but can also begin to accumulate background knowledge about the issue and help formulate solutions to these issues for the future.

1. Google Maps International Cleanup Weekend:

Yesterday, C/NET posted an article titled, "Google's International Cleanup Weekend puts maps to good use." Centered around the upcoming International Cleanup Weekend of October 13 and 14, 2007, and using Google Maps and Google Earth, people in communities around the world are invited "to pick a modest project close to home, do it, then share their accomplishments by posting photos and videos to the team's Google Map."

In the past, almost everywhere, similar community volunteer cleanup (and restoration) projects have been common. Many of these are minimally successful at preventing the need for repeated efforts in the future. However, others have been more successful in being able to identify and mitigate the source(s) of the problem and to prevent the need for continued efforts year after year. One especially important feature for this kind of success is the amount and quality of publicity that becomes available to the community about the background issues, the specific project and the solutions. Publicity often generates public enthusiasm for changes.

GeoWeb tools like Google Earth and Maps are providing new and exciting ways for people to share their projects by locating them on an interactive map. In the future it will be interesting to be able to see how many cleanup and restoration projects have happened in the past and are currently planned for any single community, for example, in Boise, Idaho. I suggest that thousands of such projects could be identified with a little effort.

Modern "Semantic Web" search tools promise to provide new avenues for individuals and organizations to search for and gather scientific, cultural and government background information about any cleanup or restoration topic.

And "Social Networking" tools now allow individuals, groups and communities to generate their own publicity about the project in the form of blogs, discussion groups, and online newsletters, etc. Conceptually this networked communication will begin to help communities develop better and more publicly supported plans in the future.

2. A Discussion Forum Within Google Earth

Also yesterday, Frank Taylor at the Google Earth Blog brought attention to a new project called GEBoards. A Google Earth user can find placemarks where someone has started a discussion thread. You can read the thread and make your own comments and you can also create a new placemark and start a new discussion on a topic of your choice.

Note - the first placemarks submitted for these discussions are generally public places and the discussion comments are minimal. However, it will be very interesting when this live discussion project is be incorporated into projects such as the Google Maps Cleanup Weekend noted above.

3. "America's Wild Legacy" - The Sierra Club

On September 28, Frank Taylor on the Google Earth Blog reported that the Sierra Club has released a Google Earth collection showing 52 locations selected for their "America's Wild Legacy" project.

I looked at the report and all of the interesting places in Google Earth for information about how The Sierra Club was using Social Networking and Semantic Web tools for these projects. My initial research did not result in much information. However, it seems logical that the Sierra Club might use some of the social networking tools mentioned above for these projects.

Of special interest to me is the Owyhee Canyonlands project the Sierra Club area selected for Idaho. For forty years I have been personally involved in many recreational activities in this large undeveloped section of Idaho that has often been mentioned as being qualified for National Park Status. With many associates I have also been involved in efforts to help the public visualize and protect this unique collection of desert canyon ecosystems. Moving forward in time, I will try to share ideas with The Sierra Club and others about how the GeoWeb, Social Networking and the Semantic Web can be used to help gather information and develop ecosystem plans for this area in the future.

"The Owyhee Initiative" is a current proposal developed by a consortium of environmental, business and government groups to designate sections for Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers and to increase Native American cultural sites and resources and other specific issues. Interestingly there is a specific comment about the "independent science review of data and an independent, balanced panel of experts."

I believe that the GeoWeb, Social Networking and Semantic Web concepts we are learning about now will provide many new opportunities the general public to learn much more about ecosystem science related to the Owyhee Canyonlands area. This knowledge will allow the public to become much more involved in the contemporary and future planning decisions than they have been in the past.

I intend to write more specific information about the topics mentioned above in the future. Meanwhile, I will end this post with a link to the Google Earth Community Nature and Geography page where I have posted a Google Earth KMZ File that allows you to visit 14 special places in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Links on each of the placemarks allow you to also view spectacular full screen 360 degree panorama views. In the future I hope to add much more information to each of these KML files.