timothy falconer's semantic weblog
Big Fractal Tangle

Optimist on the Roof

Borislov Popov wrote in response: “As all tools in the world, the Sem Web will be just a tool … It will be employed by people, so the people are the ones to change; because the tools are just artificial limbs for us — they fulfill our intentions … They will help if our intention develops, as does the internet in some cases and radio’n tv in others.”

Well said, and history agrees with him. With each technological advance, there’s always a few optimists like me shouting hope from the rooftops, who then later agree that their world-changing advance is really a two-edged sword. Fire keeps us warm, but burns out villages. Airplanes shorten distances, but bomb cities. Cars give us freedom, but pollute our environment. Our artificial limbs can both help and hurt, and whether they help is up to us.

But with the Semantic Web, there’s one difference that’ll make a real difference: it’s not an artificial limb, it’s an artificial mind. More and more, the software of the Semantic Web will help us think about the big picture. It’ll broaden our ability to keep more things in context, which over time will have a big social effect, whether we intend it to or not.

Borislav continues: “Aliviating one’s pain is not a simple task. You need to want to do it: compassion, and you need to know how to do it – wisdom.”

I agree completely. But before compassion and wisdom, we need something more basic: awareness. As our awareness increases, so will our compassion. It’s inevitable, or at least it seems so from this rooftop.

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