What Web 3.0 is really about for technical authors

On Monday I had a good chat with John Fintan Galvin, who is a true expert in Web technologies and SEO, about Web 3.0.

According to Fintan:

“Web 3.0 is all about the automation of connections between resources in a context-sensitive way. These connections can be made between anything defined as a resource, e.g. people, content, systems etc.

For example

“Now – You go to Google, you type in a search phrase, you find a few companies and based on your internal model you establish a relationship and you do business.

Web 3.0 – You type in your search query and the system does the rest based on what you have told it previously and what it can learn externally.

If I search for an item that is:

* below £5 in value
* something I have purchased before
* available from the company I made the purchase from last time
* whom I was happy with them
* and they’re in the first 3 results
* and I have an account

then place the order.

In simple terms, everything will have much clearer definitions on what they are and what they provide. This allows for the creation of automatic relationships between resources for specific tasks or functions within given contexts. Underlying all of this will be a system of trust that allows for the programmatic decision making…

The primary issue is to get people to understand that it’s not just a sound bite, but an actual structural change in the way business will be done and that they have to prepare for it.”

How does this relate to technical communication?

Today, online Help (user assistance) is developed in a way where information is provided through manually created links (tables of content and indexes), rather than purely by automated (Google-type search) links. If semantic intelligence can be built into linking and search results, then technical authors should take advantage of this.

In a technical writing context, the example could change.
If I search for an item that:

* is written in British English
* has been optimised to be viewed on a mobile phone
* is available from a site I trust
* is for advanced users

then show me that page.

The concepts are similar to “information types”, a concept Microsoft considered and dropped in the 1990s as part of HTML Help. Information types promised the ability to present different views of the information based on the type of user, content etc. Where it differs, almost ten years on, is the whole concept can be extended much, much further. Web 3.0 promises are more flexible, more automated system with the capability of information being aggregated from a range of disparate, trusted sources.

It would require well-defined rules of engagement with other businesses or data sources. If information is being drawn in from outside your domain, then it needs to be from a trusted source and in a trustworthy form. In such an environment, technical authors would need to do much more statistical analysis of what users want and how they behave – both modelling scenarios and analysing behaviours.

Geek Corner

It could be that the Open-ID standard is extended to include information on how a users prefers to receive user assistance – their level of expertise, preferred learning style etc.

Fintan stated:

”The technologies that count are RDF, OWL, HTTP and SPARQL. I would also add SVG but then again I am obsessed with it. Ensure that you have first class knowledge of relevant ontology / taxonomies related to your industry and general movements towards standards in inter-industry areas.”

Disclosure

Fintan’s company, IO1, and Cherryleaf are both shareholders in a joint venture, ECS Ltd.

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