The Third Wave of Network Innovation


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Technology has dramatically altered the world we live in. Network technologies in particular have played a central role in shaping the economies and societies of the twenty-first century.

One of the most important innovations in networking was, of course, the creation of the Internet—which allowed us to connect physical hosts anywhere and everywhere on the planet to each other. Once network operators were able to interconnect to each other using IP and other Internet standards, every available physical host was at least potentially available to every other physical host and to every authorized user.

This physical connectivity was soon followed by the creation of the World Wide Web—invented by Tim Berners-Lee. Although Berners-Lee had access to all the physical hosts of CERN partners via the Internet, he did not have access to all the information sources on those physical hosts. So he began innovating a new set of Web standards that made information sources as universally accessible as their physical hosts.

A third wave of innovation in networking is now underway. Just as the Web built on the Internet by giving people access to the information sources previously trapped on their physical hosts, the intent of this third wave of innovation is to give people access to the content currently trapped within information sources residing on those hosts.

Search is obviously a foundational technology here, since it points you to information sources based on their content. But search by itself only searches for sources. It’s up to you to then examine those sources manually and sequentially—which often means sinking considerable time and effort into assimilating content, understanding its context, and reaching a point where you’re ready to make a decision or take an action.

That’s starting to change. New technologies are making content visible across their document and database “hosts” in much the same way that the Web made documents and databases visible across their physical hosts. So when you need knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry in Brazil, you won’t just find a bunch of disparate resources that may have something in them that relates to the pharmaceutical industry and/or Brazil. You’ll get validated knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry in Brazil—as well as useful contextual metadata such as who’s authoring that knowledge and how that knowledge is being used by others.

While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it is actually an enormous one—with potential impact comparable to the Internet and the Web. The leap is certainly of the same magnitude. And the implications are tremendous, whether you’re a global marketer or a medical researcher.

I encourage the readers of this blog to start getting up to speed with this transformation. Much of the discussion on this topic is being done under the rubric of the “semantic web”—but I’d avoid getting hung up on some of the more esoteric debate taking place about what constitutes a semantic web and what doesn’t. Instead, focus on the practical and powerful changes taking place on how we use and share content. A lot of people got caught napping when the Internet exploded. A lot of them were late to the Web party, too. We should learn from their mistakes. The semantic web, content socialization—whatever you want to call it—it’s hot and it’s here. It’s visible now on the Internet and is growing in enterprises as well.

Is your enterprise leveraging knowledge in a more contextual way? Are you complementing search with new content discovery and sharing tools? Are they having noticeable impact on your business? Let me know by commenting below or by emailing me at [email protected].

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tracey Mustacchio
Tracey Mustacchio brings more than 20 years of marketing, business development and product management experience to Vivisimo. In her current role as Vice President of Marketing at Vivisimo, Tracey is responsible for the company's global marketing initiatives, including its go-to-market and product strategies.


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