Social networking and the Medici Effect

Future of IT: Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 will make social sites look quaint

With his 27-year government career, Brand Niemann, co-chairman of the Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice, seemed a likely choice to reflect on the past and future of government computing and what's ahead for social networking and the Web.

Semantic interoperability ' the ability of information systems to exchange data using a common vocabulary to guarantee that concepts and their interrelationships are not misinterpreted ' is just one example Niemann cites of how technology can support data sharing. He sees the future of government computing as a place where knowledge is shared.

IN THE NEXT 25 YEARS, today's popular social-networking sites will seem primitive, and we will be well into Web 3.0, connecting knowledge, and Web 4.0, connecting intelligence, according to my esteemed and visionary colleague Mills Davis at Project 10x (see

The technology will continue to evolve because of the Medici Effect ' the best and brightest will find one another and collaborate to innovate, facilitated by the technology itself.

The government will evolve from a vertical hierarchy into a horizontal service system in which government employees find their own work the same way forward-looking companies are telling their employees to do now.

We featured some best practices of government data sharing recently at The New New Internet Conference. The conference included Chris Rasmussen of the U.S. Intelligence Community talking about Intellipedia, where he advised ending point-to-point communications such as e-mail and PowerPoint, and a panel where I discussed early Web 2.0 applications in government, such as blogs, Webcasting, Semantic Web and Second Life (see

Last month, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Roundtable assessed the state of the art of smart growth for this area at its fourth annual meeting. We supported the meeting with Web 2.0 technologies so Web-connected citizens and decision-makers could participate in planning their future life in this area (

The biggest technological achievement of the government in the past 25 years has been the emergence of the Internet following its invention by a government agency ' the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ' and the widespread adoption by the government of World Wide Web standards, protocols and activities.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, said recently: 'The world is a mess of interconnected communities, and it is why [the Web] is working.' Government employees are beginning to show more emergent behavior by taking the initiative to do their jobs better in service to the citizen using the Internet and Web technologies that support that behavior. As the government workforce welcomes the Net generation, I see that trend accelerating.


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