Information Online 2007 – Day 1 First session.

Well here I am in Sydney attending one of Australia’s premier library conferences, the Information Online conference 2007. It was a big day today, with 3 keynotes as well as other sessions. I will do my best to summarise here, what I have taken in lots of written notes. And to save everyone eye strain, I have split at least the first day into morning and afternoon sessions.

Special Minister of State Gary Nairn officially opened the proceedings, with some interesting information and a reasonable insight into what librarians are on about. Of most interest was the e-government strategy and the www.australia.gov.au portal, which is the gateway to all federal government websites. At present, 13% of people dealing with government do so only online, with Minister Nairn anticipating a figure of 30-40% will really redefine how government offers service. Blogs are also on their radar, as are other Web 2.0 applications and mashups.

The opening keynote was from Ross Ackland, Director of the Australian office of the W3C and the CSIRO ICT Centre. He gave a very interesting take on Where the web is heading, from both the W3C perspective and his own experiences.

W3C’s long term goals are the web for everyone, web on everything, knowledge base which is advanced data searching and sharing and trust and confidence – where there is collaboration, accountability, security, confidence and confidentiality. Next step for us as consumers is to use our portable devices as our purchasing power, moving on from credit cards. Although only 3 organisations in Australia are W3C members (CSIRO, Vision Australia and AGIMO), there has been significant technical input from Australia on W3C standars.

So from here its the Semantic Web – where the meaning of information is understood by machines, making searching more successful. Although it is not there yet, much work has been done on the foundations on which this will rest (ie. XML, ontologies etc). He believes that there is another 5 years before it is ready for market adoption.

In the meantime, he believes that Web 2.0 is providing great complimentary interfaces. They pave the way to the eventual rise of the semantic web, by getting users accustomed to collaboration, open interfaces and applications that can leverage multiple services.

The Mobile web has a W3C web initiative (2005) behind it, which has also been fully backed by all the major telecommunication companies. End user acceptance is the catalyst needed now. Libraries need to seriously think about delivering information to devices that are no longer sitting on a desktop. Think phones, PDAs and more.

Sensor web is the streaming data coming from wireless devices that sense environment, including environmental monitoring, home automation, security, personal health monitoring and entertainment. The monitoring devices are cheap, but how do we manage the streamed data that they will generate. Issues also arise in the searching, integration, translation and storage of such data.

He also spoke about how the Internet has a role to play in Australia’s Water Crisis, including bringing all water data together from very diverse sources, so that the best decisions can be made on how to proceed. (check out http://wron.net.au)

His predictions are that the Web will accelerate in development, with Web 2.0 being only the tip of the iceberg, that libraries have to stop building traditional websites, that mobile will become equal to the desktop and that anyone will be able to build web applications. Wow, sounds like its going to get even more interesting.