"Web 2.0" is the buzz du jour in media and technology circles, but when Radar Networks hired Igor to name its revolutionary new personal and group information manager web application, they were touting their product as "Web 3.0". What?
Web 3.0, AKA the Semantic Web, promises the next generation of web intelligence and advanced data mining, connectivity, and meaning. As Wired explains it, while Google may organize the universe of public information, Radar's new service will organize your personal information:
Right now…your information resides in various locations on your computer, on different applications around the web, and within your multiple email accounts. To gather all your knowledge on a given area would be quite a chore.
The mission of gathering all this information and "tying it all together" led Igor to the perfect name for Radar's new kind of personal and group information manager product: Twine. An elegant word for a deceptively simple physical object, Twine also contains the verb form, meaning "to twist together; intertwine; interweave." Wired continues:
Twine is a sort of knowledge management tool for the masses. Each user's Twine home page is a sort of personal dashboard—its central feature is a list of updates not unlike the Facebook News Feed—that allows a user to import any memo, website, video, or photo from anywhere on the desktop or internet. Twine then uses semantic web technology to organize automatically all of your information by theme and then infer what other information might also interest you.
While one can do this for private information, the shining hope for the application is that groups can use it to collaborate on a project or keep tabs on a certain subject of interest by each contributing to a communal information bucket called—get this—"a twine."
Tim O'Reilly, in his O'Reilly Radar (no relation) blog, goes even deeper into the nuts and bolts that make Twine tick (are you tallying the metaphors here?):
Underlying twine is Radar's [Network's] semantic engine, trained to do what is called entity extraction from documents. Put in plain language, the semantic engine auto-tags each document, turning each entity into what looks like a web link as well as a tag in the sidebar. Type a note in twine, and it picks out all of the people, places, companies, books, and other types of information contained in the note, separating them out by type.
OK. So what, you say? The magic doesn't happen until you -- or a group of people -- have collected a large set of documents. Now, you can use the tags associated with any given document to pivot through everything else your collection, or twine, contains about that tag.
… The key point is that because each entity in any of the documents becomes a meaningful tag, that extracted meaning becomes a semantic layer tying all of the documents together. What's more, twine has its own built-in semantic taxonomy, based on concepts mined from wikipedia, and…can make connections between documents using tags and concepts that are not actually in the documents themselves.
For any of you who have ever joined a social network only to ask yourselves afterwards, "Now what do I do with it?", your answer is finally here: Twine!