This is another half thought out post where I am “throwing mud against the wall to see what sticks”.
(Disclosure I work for Nortel, and they in no way support, or sponsor/endorse this blog, all the comments are personal.)
One of the big trends Nortel, and others, see in the coming years is hyperconnectivity, where more and more devices are connected to the internet. There has been lots of talk both internally to Nortel and externally over the last 6 months on topic, with a recent CIO article and press releases and an feature article. There is now even a Wikipedia article which defines hyperconnectivity as:-
Hyperconnectivity is an accelerating market trend in which all things that can or should communicate through the network will communicate through the network. This encompasses person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication. It is fueling huge increases in bandwidth demand and changes in communications because of the complexity, diversity and integration of new applications and devices using the network.
One of the keys to this hyperconnectivity, besides lots of bandwidth and devices, will be communication enabled applications. These applications maybe traditional people to people/people to machines or machine to machine agent based applications. For example there are now 3.25 billion mobile phones in the world, and with phones adding technology such as WiFi and using high speed data access the phone will move form being just a voice communication device to a unified communication device. Phones now have RSS readers, push email, Skype, mobile interfaces for tools like gCal, Twitter. Another example is the growth in consumer electronics that are now being connected to the network, for example WiFi photo frames. Finally we have mashable services being produced such as Yahoo Pipes, Microsoft Popfly, and FaceBook APIs/Applications. These applications/tools/services will be used on and by lots and lots of different devices.
For me this hyper-communication is a foundation layer that is needed to move us towards the semantic web, if you disagree that it is not a foundation layer then at least it is a result of the semantic web, almost a chicken and the egg thing.
The semantic web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a form that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.
For us to have communication enabled applications, and the semantic web, I also see that we need more support for Microformats and other tools that are designed for humans first and machines second, and above all are simple! These tools will allow for more inter application and device communication. (Microformats is a little project that has been going now for 2 years and is finally gaining momentum with some great example of microformat implementations.)
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