Today I was dreaming. I was thinking about why still almost nobody uses Google Sidewiki and then it got clearer to me that most missing issue to build a more meaningful semantic web is missing of trust. Search engines still do a quite bad job, when it comes to human experience or knowledge. Facebook made a simple semantic algorithm called Friend of Friend Network popular and it seems that this was already sufficient to make everyone horay nowadays. We trust in faces, even though every serial killer has chance to create a fake profile, we trust so much in it, that we even do not care about our privacy issues or the fact, that probably 80 % of facebook information is totally useless. I even read in media, that lucky Mark was first after Hitler to move masses to that extend...
Then I was thinking how it would be to have a system based on protected identy on the one side and much more transparency on the others. I am talking about a system in which it is guaranteed, that each human is registered once, in which human actions are recorded in a transparent and anonymisly manner, not their faces or real names. Can you imagine how powerfull such a system would be? I have no doubt that this is a missing link, when it comes to an efficient way of generating semantics or if you like on of those "next generation internet"..
Think about spam, how could it work in a system, that identifies authors activity, probably spamming would work as good as applying for a bank position after having a record of bank rubbery in personal record. What about Wikipedias problem, when it comes to scientific quotations? Wouldn t it be great to know who wrote which article (And when I use who here, I am not thinking about a name or photo like you coould use in Google Knol, but more about, what experiences, qualification the person took, to write about a special topic, were his former contribution beneficial and well accepted or was the person manipulating information for some personal interest?).
Since Wikileaks most people know aboout the importance of protected privacy on the one hand and the importance to have face on the other. It is exactly that combination which makes the power. A system that guarantees identy and privacy leverages the power of real democracy like we had never that situation before in history. Internet is democratic by nature. It has its very tendency to support investigative journalism and the power to change how media works, by making more transparent the motivation for publishing media by providing more easily background information.
Identy and trust is the base for producing more quality information, it is the base how we aquire any knowledge and until now hardly neglected by most Internet services, especially when it comes to search. How it would be when we first read news, that not is in first place because media industry can make money out of it, but because independent people prooved it autentic and beneficial for public comunity? Twitter pics, in case a plain crashes are a first step into that direction ,but a system that reflects the opinion of locals in any part of the world, would be much more interesting. A human based networkt system brings the opportunity to humankind to play real democracy in Internet and as such could be come most powerful political instance based on hardly manipulated information.
Coming back to my initial thought about Side-Wiki I believe main factor, why it did not get popular is usability. Technology only works, if it is easy to use and brings a benefit to customers. Today Side-Wiki misses both, it is difficult to use and its information is of poor value since I get poor information who and why people write something, it does not filter by relevance and due to technology restrictions it did not hit critical mass yet.
But it still looks like a first step into a very interesting direction. Imagine the fully user qualified Internet, as a permanent sidebar, I get sidebar information on every webpage, who, where and when wrote it, I can see, who of my friends I personally know and trust have read it, I can get some information why it was written there and what else wrote the author of it and I can easily classify that article, and that is much more then putting a like button. (For example Wikipedia already introduced an easy to use 5 Star Feedback system on important criteria) I can search a travel destination, and see who of my trusted friends have already been there. I also could contact a not known but qualified person, to get a first hand opinion. A fully user qualified Internet would also link that feedback to the person and make it available in any other relevant context. And last not least such a system would fight more efficiently then anything else before the manipulation of information.
But how it works out in comparison to faild aproaches until now? I believe for building a more semantic web, if is highly important to collect feedback information and measure contribution of each individual. In a century where information is the most important resource and capital, there could be a value for producing helpful information. I am thinking about something more sophisticated then KUDO-or KARMA systems some Forums already include. For example companies like Google but also Governments would have the power to convert such contributions into money, you could buy things from. This could motivate me to share my experience even with unknown people, since it would not be waste of time if it was recorded and gives me some points to take consultation in other parts.
Finally that could help the Internet to learn from humans and give semantic answers to questions like, what is the cheapest way to get from brasil to japan in June 2012 or even more complex questions like, what is the best way to fight poverty in Mali, agregating and transparentizing the knowledge of naturally equal human beings.A sidewiki-function could turn out an important tool to make sure freedom of speech, it is powerful, since information cannot be disabled.Finally it would make it much more difficult to manipulate information or corrupt people.
Facebook or social networks like WAYN, got some quite interesting methods to gather knowledge, they present a slideshow, where you just click some buttons like: "I like to do that", "I have done that" or "I am not interested" to create profiles. Could that be used to create click by click the semantic web? How much would it cost to verify some machine deducted information. For example: Berlin is capital of Germany? or ?Oranges grow in your country? No doubt that google translate will do a good translation for that phrase in any language! So the same tool would be perfect to get global surveys. People already do stuff like that for free, but it could be even more effective, if you can earn some ice-cream from clicking.And of course it is also a question of designing very good User-Interfaces as facebook prooves in this days.
Obviously there are also a lot of issues, maybe most important how to asure identy while guaranteeing privacy, howto protect personal information and howto make more transparent in which way personal information is processed, but this issues should be solvable, especially if you look through the benefits and impact of a semantic web on any situation of human life in the information age.Finally it will help people to take better decisions and progress much more efective as efficient in important live situations, like spending time with best match or identify deseases more acurately. or just less wars generated by misinformation...
Finally it could be the missing part motivating people to do that extra-work of putting semantic Information generating a more powerful structured data model of web content, and strenghten position of Internet as mediator in any business. I think a fully user qualified internet, is not so difficult to reach from point of technology (Compare Time Burners Lee ideas about URI quite some time ago), but it needs a better design to turn true soon.