Every Revolution Needs a Name: The Metaweb…

If RSS is ever going to go mainstream, we need a name for this movement that is more consumer-friendly than “the Blogosphere” — and also a name that is not particularly tied to Blogs. RSS and emerging metadata technologies including XML, RDF, DAML+OIL, OWL, etc. should not be linked only to Weblogs. In fact these technologies can be used for so many things — from publishing, to marketing, e-commerce, community, collaboration and even IT-management, supply-chain integration, support, KM, business intelligence, search, and much more we haven’t even imagined yet. That’s why I propose calling this new generation of the Web, “The Metaweb.” The Metaweb isn’t really a new Web, it’s a new meta-layer of the existing Web, and it’s all about metadata. I think we should all start using the term “The Metaweb” to describe it. It certainly is better than “The Semantic Web” — a term that is far to weighted towards far-off goals of AI and agents. Yes, the Metaweb will result in the Semantic Web, but it’s much more near-term. It’s happening NOW. RSS is already here. Weblogs are spreading. Wikis are growing. The Metaweb is alive and growing. This article is proof of that. It’s all about metadata, that’s the key: Making data “smarter.” As the world moves from “dumb data, smart apps” to “smart data, smart apps” we will all benefit from a dramatic improvement in the way information is managed and shared. Information overload comes from “dumb data” not “dumb apps.” By making the data “smarter” we can enable applications to be “smarter” with less work, and without fancy AI. The Metaweb is not about artificial intelligence, it’s about providing richer semantic interoperability, and richer semantic metadata, in existing applications and information sources. What do you think?

17 thoughts on “Every Revolution Needs a Name: The Metaweb…”

  1. Blogging-plus-RSS is the first winner app of XML

    Interesting…    Blogging-plus-RSS is the first winner app of XML Couldn’t of said it better myself (Maybe I would have added a horizontal application caveat – Blogging-plus-RSS is the first winner horizontal app of XML).  O…

  2. The Metaweb

    Nova Spivack writes about the Metaweb over at his Minding the Planet weblog, If RSS is ever going to go mainstream, we need a name for this movement that is more consumer-friendly than “the Blogosphere” — and also a name…

  3. What\’s in a name?

    Those of you who have been following the Echo/Pie/Atom/Whatever saga will know what I’m talking about. And so do Amy Gahran who is running a competition to find a new name for RSS and Nova Spivack who proposes a name for the revolution: The Metaweb….

  4. Rebranding RSS and syndication

    Your grandmother doesn’t do HTTP and she doesn’t know from XHTML. You didn’t buy her a computer so she could access SMTP and IMAP and POP. No, it took words like internet, web, and e-mail to help people who hadn’t been reading William Gibson make sense…

  5. I agree, Nova. I remember your ranting and raving 10 years ago around our kitchen about the web. RSS (as representative of a class of technologies that let’s us launch tiny fractals into miraculous combinations) is a breakthrough the way the web was. But I ain’t so sure the word Metaweb will stick. People know what webs are, which is one reason that word made it, but what is a meta? Not familiar in common parlance.

  6. I think “the web” will do just fine. All of the stuff you are describing are evolving things that ulitmately enrich the meaning and utility that ‘real people’ can extract from the web.
    “Naming a thing to create it” is about having a control-point, a handle on something discrete – either to spread the word about it, or draw boundaries around it to exploit it.
    As you say yourself, it’s not new or discrete, it’s an evolution – not a revolution. It’s the web.

  7. Well Matt I disagree — I think naming an evolution helps to make it concrete. In fact the Metaweb is not just “The Web” because the Web is not made up of discrete chunks of metadata that describe individual ideas. That’s what RSS and Atom and the upcoming Semantic Web is focused on. But I don’t think those terms are consumer-friendly enough. Metaweb is better.

  8. I think Nova we will have to agree-to-disagree.
    You use of the term ‘consumer’ gives it away. ‘Metaweb’ is a groovy brand name to appropriate a bunch of stuff and give it a handle to market it. Shrinkwrapping, no?
    You refer to the “upcoming Semantic Web” as it was a product going to appear on our shelves “in Q2 or real soon now”.
    IMHO, like I said it’s just the web: evolving, realising new and divergent channels, applications and user-experiences.
    If I understood you motives perhaps for making this evolution concrete I would better understand. Is it for educating the market?

  9. I agree – metaweb is the perfect name. I remember 10 years ago if you used the term metadata, peoples’ (especially managers’) eyes glazed over and they tuned you out. It wasn’t until customers starting using the term that it got management attention and respect. They are finally starting to realize that metadata is what enables (empowers, even) data to be usable, reusable and automatable. It will be the same with the metaweb. Get the US government to buy in to the term (e.g. through eGov initiatives) and it will rapidly become part of the language.

  10. I agree – metaweb is the perfect name. I remember 10 years ago if you used the term metadata, peoples’ (especially managers’) eyes glazed over and they tuned you out. It wasn’t until customers starting using the term that it got management attention and respect. They are finally starting to realize that metadata is what enables (empowers, even) data to be usable, reusable and automatable. It will be the same with the metaweb. Get the US government to buy in to the term (e.g. through eGov initiatives) and it will rapidly become part of the language.

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