Alexa, Jelly, and Web 3.8

Forget Web 2.0! That is so 2005! Now we have Web 3.8. Wow!

What is that? Remember ‘six degrees of separation’? Well, according to Biz Stone, the guys who came up with that theory have done more research and found that in this digitally connected era, the degrees of separation have reduced to just 3.8.

Rich Roll interviews Biz Stone in an intriguing interview where Biz explains his newest website and system – askjelly. Biz Stone is one of the guys who co-founded Twitter. Oh – that Biz Stone!

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Askjelly is a systemised knowledgebase that uses people for answers instead of text-based information on the Internet. As Rich and Biz spoke I realised that Librarians might finally be out of a job. The famous quote by Neil Gaiman: ‘Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.’, might finally be defunct. Biz has found a way to crowd-source the subjective questions.

So I put askjelly to the test and posed the question: “What will happen to Librarians in the age of knowledge-bases, ‘jelly’ and AI?

And shortly thereafter I received two thoughtful replies:

From CallKathy:

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And from Chris:

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Biz’s theory is that there are not really unique questions, and that someone on this planet will have the answer for you.

He then went on to show how this technology works with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa and it evoked similarities to the AI robot in the movie Her.

Rich Roll has kindly listed a lot of the relevant articles and links in the show notes of his podcast information and it’s well worth a look.

As for the success of #askjelly and the future of Librarianship – only time will tell.

 

The unanswerable

As a Reference Librarian in a busy public library I help people find the answers to their questions every day. I help them with questions big, small and everything in between; everything from research into medical conditions, to the location of the photocopier. Often the most urgent need is to know their placement in the reservation queue for the latest best seller.

 

In the last two weeks I attended a 90th and an 80th birthday celebration. These parties were both fun and emotionally moving occasions. Digital photo stories on display fleshed out the lives of these individuals and gave appropriate eminence to each. It is amazing what you learn about people at an event like this. It makes me realise how important each person is within their sphere of influence.

 

I joked about the fact that I went to these parties for old folk, but in truth I feel privileged to have been invited and present at these enjoyable and momentous events. The 90 year old lives independently, is relatively mobile, and in full use of their mental abilities and sense of humour. The 80 year old is a friend who cycles in the group I also cycle with, and also swims in the sea regularly, runs, and much more.

 

Meanwhile the person in my life who has cancer was hospitalised. As someone who never smoked it seems ironic they have cancer in their lung. Bad luck perhaps. Is there no logic to living a long and healthy life?

 

These experiences help make me better at my job. I am more accepting, inclusive, and non-judgmental towards everyone. Paradoxically, all questions become both irrelevant and significant at the same time. Our shared mortality is the only defining characteristic. The meaning of life blurs in and out of focus.

 

The big questions remain unanswerable.