How cell phones, Twitter and Facebook make history

From the Government Business Examiner
by Donna L. Quesinberry

When performing a search on Clay Shirky (an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program [ITP]), the result is no less than 20 pages of factoids, videos, articles, blogs, etc. Mr. Shirky’s understanding of the interrelated effects of social and technological network topology and how social networks will shape our culture is a cut above the trendsetters – perhaps this is because he has written about the Internet since 1993.

Clay’s recent presentation, How cell phones, Twitter and Facebook make history, on TED (a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading that began in 1984) definitely demonstrates the virality of conceptual thinking the Internet is counted on to churn daily. Its interesting to note, that Mr. Shirky started his career as a Yale College graduate with an art degree, of all things. He worked as a theater director and designer in New York. His company, Hard Place Theater staged “non-fiction theater,” based on collages of found documents. That is, until he fell in love with the Internet and the rest, as they say, is history.

From his biography:

…Over the years, he has had regular columns in Business 2.0, FEED, OpenP2P.com and ACM Net_Worker, and his writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, Wired, Release 1.0, Computerworld, and IEEE Computer. He has been interviewed by Slashdot, Red Herring, Media Life, and the Economist’s Ebusiness Forum. He has written about biotechnology in his “After Darwin” column in FEED magazine, and serves as a technical reviewer for O’Reilly’s bioinformatics series. He helps program the “Biological Models of Computation” track for O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology conferences.

The interesting thing to note here, apart from Clay’s comprehension of the social and technological underpinnings of the Internet as it transverses from Web 2.0 to 3.0 and the new connectivism touted by Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine, is that he successfully transitioned from an art major to a technological guru with an esteemed following. His recognition among industry leaders (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Release 1.0, Computerworld, IEEE Computer, PC Forum, Internet Society, Department of Defense [DoD], BBC, Economist Group, World Technology Network, and O’Reilly [conferences on Peer-to-Peer, Open Source, and Emerging Technology]) is worthy of respect.

Shirky states that the Semantic Web is for the creation of syllogisms. As we are aware syllogisms are a form of logic. Typically, canonical syllogisms are the most recognized as a form of deductive reasoning that consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. An example, major premise – men are honorable, minor premise – Nicholas is a man, and the conclusion Nicholas is an honorable man.

We can easily see the potential flaws in canonical syllogism. Understanding its origination from Aristotle and the representative philosophical undertones – the premise is pre-eminent; however, syllogism does maintain three distinct structures:

* Hypothetical – If p then q; it continues: p, therefore q.
* Disjunctive – modus tollens, has as its first premise a statement of alternatives: Either p or q; it continues: not q, therefore p
* Categorical or canonical – comprises three categorical propositions, which must be statements of the form all x are y, no x is y, some x is y, or some x is not y

Without intending to debunk Mr. Shirky’s premise that Web 3.0 serves as a philosophical argument that suggests the world should make more sense than it does via neat ontologies and nice syllogistic logic vision, it does appear that he may be overlooking that Web 3.0 doesn’t comply with the canonical or categorical view of syllogism; rather, it may represent the hypothetical and disjunctive syllogistic theory administered through a shared Worldview. Certainly, the following video through TED presents a snapshot of Web3C potential:

An example of Semantic Web or the New Connectivism at work is presented on the The WorldWide Web Consortium (W3C)’s website as follows:

Q: How do you buy a book over the Semantic Web?

A: You browse/query until you find a suitable offer to sell the book you want. You add information to the Semantic Web saying that you accept the offer and giving details (your name, shipping address, credit card information, etc). Of course you add it (1) with access control so only you and seller can see it, and (2) you store it in a place where the seller can easily get it, perhaps the seller’s own server, (3) you notify the seller about it. You wait or query for confirmation that the seller has received your acceptance, and perhaps (later) for shipping information, etc. [http://www.w3.org/2002/03/semweb/]

This example does preclude that your system will be integrated with an infusion of data mines that will pre-empt illogical combinations to result in success-driven application of syllogism and the end result will be the purchase of your book. Will we desire Web 3.0 to “think” for us? Maybe, not in our generation, but we will appreciate it when we want to exact simple logical requests from our PC – it will provide didactically driven results. And, as Mr. Shirky states, much of the proposed value of the Semantic Web is coming.

Knowing is half the battle; and, we know the new connectivism is knocking on Web 2.0’s door.

For more info: * Shirky.com * The WorldWide Web Consortium (Web3C) * TED – Ideas Worth Spreading

About the Author: Ms. Quesinberry, DonnaInk Publications (DP) President, manages a woman-owned, sole proprietor, Government (federal, state and local) and commercial small business, with surge potential to 200 able-bodied contract personnel. She is also a published technical non-fiction and creative work author, university courseware developer | instructor, and recognized as a poetess. Donna has interviewed live on CNBC and is a single mother of five adult children. With over 20 years of professional expertise, featuring high 90% performance measurements and a 98% win ratio for multiple | diverse clients from 2007 through 2009 – DP also represents publications and writer agent pursuits.
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