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!


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:


And from Chris:


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.


Why write

Why write at all? I find I am asking myself this question often these days. How about you?

Writing blogs has become so popular that it is almost impossible to search for information online without getting any blogposts in your search result; even if you try to be clever and refine your search to prevent them. Someone should invent a search engine that can do this – if they haven’t already. If you know of one, let me know.

I love reading blog posts. I find them, in general, to be creative and inspirational. I enjoy reading the ideas of others. The short expression of an idea seems to be enough. If the post is too long I fall victim to #tl:dr (too long: didn’t read).

In fact my time is so full of activity that I have no time to read blogs. My Reader is full of unread posts and I only seem to be steered to read a blogpost via twitter, and even then it requires a clever hook to get me to click on the link. I’d prefer to read people’s blogs but I have to attend to the barrage of emails I receive. Please spare me the email telling me the photocopier in a distant office has a large job – I don’t care and resent the effort required on my part having to delete it.

So why do we write at all? *to communicate *to share *to educate *to change * to amuse *to record *to understand *to create *to set guidelines *to try to make money *to promote *to develop *to learn *to express *to discover *to question *to connect *to ask *to vent *to coerce *to be read *to practice *to improve *to perfect *to explore *to inform *to make people feel…

Solar by Ian McEwan put me in a foul mood last weekend. I hated it. I loathed the main character. I was disappointed with the pathetic inclusion of the scientific concepts. I hated the style of moving the story forward whilst simultaneously backtracking to fill the narrative of the character. I hated the way the story moved on quickly from one scene to the next with no break (or chapter) to indicate this change in the flow. I persisted because I have loved other works by Ian McEwan. Saturday is one of my favourite books. By the end of Solar I despised the main character and felt depressed and uninspired. I expect that loathing the character was the point. Was this the aim of Mr. McEwan? Then don’t bother. I prefer to read literature that is interesting, uplifting, generous, teaches me something, inspirational, innovative, intriging, challenging, clever, or beautiful.

I realise writing a book is a completely different experience compared to writing a short idea or essay for a blog. And reading books too is a completely different experience that requires some commitment. Asking the question “why write?” applies here too though, perhaps more so. What do you want to be your legacy as a writer?

Julia Cameron wrote The Artists Way some time ago now and by following her prescribed three month program, it instilled in me the practice of writing “morning pages”. I think she has inspired many people to do this. So I use the morning pages as first stream-of-consciousness venting. It has had a profound effect on my wellbeing. It is a useful tool to be able to write any junk without concern for being correct in any way. It helps me sort out my thoughts and gets rid of the neurotic junk. I record my dreams sometimes. I plan. I vent. I try to understand. Writing for my blogs is more considered and I try to pick topics to explore and share that I think may interest others. But I keep asking myself why I bother – why any of us bother at all.