The December 07 Edition of Scientific America just published an article titled “The Semantic Web In Action: Corporate applications are well under way, and consumer uses are emerging” By Lee Feigenbaum, Ivan Herman, Tonya Hongsermeier, Eric Neumann and Susie Stephens
“Six years ago in this magazine, Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila unveiled a nascent vision of the Semantic Web: a highly interconnected network of data that could be easily accessed and understood by any desktop or handheld machine. They painted a future of intelligent software agents that would head out on the World Wide Web and automatically book flights and hotels for our trips, update our medical records and give us a single, customized answer to a particular question without our having to search for information or pore through results.”
While the above vision may not be a full reality today the components of the “system” which would make the vision a reality is converging together as if the puzzle was already designed by a master. The creativity of independent applications developers is exploding and innovation appears daily. The platforms are becoming more and more robust daily. The individuals are finding new ways to leverage these capabilities beyond anyone’s imagination. Last but not least, the relationship dynamics of people connecting with people from everywhere and discussing everything is creating new models of learning which is expanding knowledge and accelerating the emergence of a Relationship Economy.
Looking from the Outside in
While conversations about businesses adopting the social web seem to be accelerating most of the observations and context of these discussions have been through the lens of looking from the inside out. The failure of businesses to view the dynamics of the social web from the outside in is the transformational constraint of many and the explosive opportunity for the few.
Doc Searls, The Cluetrain Manifesto, says “Most corporations only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.”“But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”
“While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happy talk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.”
“However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.”
“Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.”
Looking at the social web from within the existing context of business is the wrong vantage point that limits ones ability to get a 360 degree view of the horizon. By the way, there is a movement coming over the horizon and right now all we can see if a cloud of dust being kicked up by the potential of a stampede. If you don’t see it you may just get run over.
What say you?
Next up: Looking from the Outside In.