Monday, April 27, 2009

WWW: Wake - A Web Odyssey ...

Since "2001: A Space Odyssey" we no longer ignore science-fiction novels and movies, even if we are not in favor of such kind of literature. They usually question our common-sense philosophical paradigms. Of course, only if they have deeper meaning beyond the techno-babble of primitive scifi books. I do not need to recall books like Neuromances, authors like P. K. Dick or movies like Matrix. All of them bore some deeper philosophical questions.

Robert J. Stewart’sWWW:Wake” inscribes itself into this stream of thought interwoven with scifi fable.

Stewart creates the trilogy about the Web. Wake is the part one of it. It is a trilogy of an intelligent consciousness rising in the web - out of its almost residual activity, related to lost signals and cellular automata-like activity of them.

The first part: WWW:Wake is really a good reading. In fact one almost does not feel any typical scifi climate. We follow the plot of young girl blind from her birth. At some moment in her life, a Japanese professor offers her his help – a promise to restore her sight. An implant is planted into her brain to correct her optic nerve transmission. However, instead of restoring her vision, at first it enables her to see ... the web.In fact, we need here to correct the author - she is able to see the Internet, not the WEB.What is more – the web architecture is not properly described through the visions of the character.This was the first tiny slip of the author – while he made a lot of effort to describe some concepts of the web correctly, at some places we can find many conceptual shortcomings.

However, these issues are minor – the author so brilliantly describes the learning process of the computer program, that is almost like a popular introduction to semantic web ontologies and their “use cases”:


"And and and yes, yes, yes it was staggering, thrilling, long long last, here it was,the key, this website, this increadible website, expressed concepts in a form I could nowunderstand, systematizing it all, relating thousands of things to each other in a coding system,that explained them. Term after term. connection after connection, idea after idea, this websitelaid them out, curious, interesting, an apple is a fruit, fruits contaib seeds, seeds can grom into es..."


The another positive side of the book is its references to important yet less known people and works, like"Cyc" and its author Douglas Lenat, "Mathematica" and Stephen Wolfram or Princeton's WordNet.

Finally – We will look forward to read the second part of the WWW trilogy – I hope it will reveal the true virtues of the author and his opus.

The post finished in Paris, France on May 1st, 2009.

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