Tim Brenners Lee is an Idiot…

25 Sep

Okay – he’s not. He’s a very smart man. But those who parrot his words as if they were some written in stone fact are leaning toward being that one guy that the village is missing – if you know what I mean. If you do – just nod your head. Good.

I recently posited a question on LinkedIn regarding Web 3.0 – and it’s in fact based on an earlier blog post here – and I specifically said I would not accept answers parroting Eric Schmidt or Tim Brenners Lee. Not because I disagree with the answers – but because I wanted peoples opinions… not regurgitating up to me what you read last week.

Here’s the reality – and I’m pretty sure Tim Brenners Lee would agree with me on this, if you can’t come up with your own definition of something – if you can’t percolate up a NEW idea – if when asked to look to the future you robotically parrot out what you read this week as ideas for something… then your problem is something that needs to be addressed. Put down the text books and learn to use your creative thinking functions because they are swiftly dying.

Having defined why I called Tim Brenners Lee an Idiot – I’ll now do something rude to all of you who keep insisting that Web 3.0 is the “Semantic Web” with machines talking to each other and blah, blah, blah… yes I’ve seen the video clips too people. It was a great speech. Just because a man whose famous says, “This is what I think” doesn’t make it so. Later on – I’ll do the name dropping game. If I had a nickel for every time a smart man said something that never came true – I’d have bought the Internet from Al Gore years ago.

But – for the sake of argument – let’s assume Tim is right and Web 3.0 is the “Semantic Web” where machines talk to each other and information you generate is shared safely and fluidly back and forth. Uh… people… we have that. It’s called I’m only half joking here. Essentially any sufficiently advanced eCommerce system does just exactly what Tim Brenners Lee has called a “Semantic Web”, and many of the Intranets for global corporations have similar mechanisms that take that even farther for ticketing and asset tracking and so on. Semantic Webs? Already here. Been here for years.

If that is the case then we need to start discussing Web 4.0. Because Web 3.0 came and went already. It’s been here for about 7 years that I’m aware of. In fact Google and IBM and almost any major global corporation on the planet has that very scenario running one degree or another. If you’re hoping for it to become something that Joe and Jane User do – as Sir Brenners Lee discusses – it’s probably not going to happen because stop and ask yourself why they’d do it.


In my time I’ve had the pleasure of listening to lectures from some of the most brilliant minds on the planet. From Hawking (in Salt Lake City before many of you even could power up a computer) and Eric Cornell in Physics (in Boulder with his Squirt Guns) and from Cliff Stoval to, yes, Tim Brenners Lee on subjects such as the internet. These are really really brilliant men. (Told you I could do the name dropping game … here let me bring this home now…)

As Jakob Neilsen once said to me – well okay it wasn’t to me specifically, but I was in the audience … What is it that makes someone want to do that? Do they have a need to? Or do you you have a need to prove your viewpoint? Show me the need.

Joe and Jane User have no need to personally utilize a Semantic Web. And thats why the user front end for such a beast will not come into being. The back end of it – yeah – in fact as I pointed out most places already have it to one extent or another – that will be here if it isn’t already. But no – the Semantic Web is not Web 3.0, and repeating that it will isn’t going to change it.

Tim Brenners Lee is a great man. Almost all of his work I’ve enjoyed immensely but you can’t put too much into predictions. Not by me. Not by him, not by anyone. The world evolves and it evolves very quickly when we involve technology. But it’s always driven by peoples needs.

When Tim defined Web 3.0 he never explained how this met anyones needs. At least not to my satisfaction. He explained how it met their needs to his justifications and it’s a beautiful vision of technology but it is near sighted, it doesn’t take into account that corporate infrastructures have often had these very technologies in place for nearly a decade (ever wonder how Amazon or any great eCommerce site works? Yes – that is Brenners Lee’s Semantic web in Action!). So that’s not web 3.0. We have Tim Brenners Lee’s vision of that right now in many ways.

What we don’t have and what I have been asking for… is for people to give me their definition of that.

Tim Brenners Lee is a brilliant technologist. So is – Eric Schmidt – well … okay he’s not a Tim Brenners Lee, but I’d let him rebuild my laptop – and a lot of people keep quoting him also, and refering me to links of videos by both of them.

Which … btw … I find incredibly ironic that they find fault with my defining video entertainment and content as not being a core component of web 3.0… by sending me links of video content.

Now, I’m not saying that I know it all. Nor to be really honest am I saying that Video content is 3.0. It’s not. But user generated content in new media will be. It will be when it’s self sustaining – when it pays for itself in some fashion, and when it has it’s own social group followings which help sustain it not only from a fiscal point – but also from a user generated base view point.

Many years ago, a very bright, but very… odd… artist named Andy Warhol said (and I’m paraphrasing) “..In the future everyone will have 15 minutes of fame.”. I would go so far as to say that Web 3.0 will allow those who have the drive – to achieve that fame.

That having “living” content – either 3D or Video or some such level of interactive visual construct which is updated, has it’s own stories, it’s own life – be it a personal documentary, or something like “The Guild” (my obligatory Felicia Day plug) or Dr. Horrible (my obligatory Josh Whedon plug) or even works like Doktor Sleepless (my obligatory Warren Ellis plug) will be web 3.0.

That’s my take. It doesn’t make me smarter than Tim Brenners Lee. But it does make me smart enough to not make him… an idiot.

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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Uncategorized


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