Web 3.0 – What’s In It For You?


Web 3.0. What is it and what’s in it for you?

Sometimes called the “Semantic Web”, Web 3.0 will redesign the internet to permit computers to understand the context of what you are looking for and be more effective at finding and analyzing information for you, taking into considerations a wide range of relationships.

web-30-6Some people believe we are already well on the way to this new technology. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Now called Web 1.0, it became a resource base of information. You might think of it as a library. Web 2.0, introduced about ten years later, permits you to interact with the Internet. It lets you make changes to Web pages, post product reviews, add information, link people to others, share content and get information in new ways, such as with Really Simple Syndication (RSS). It also expanded access to the Internet beyond the computer, letting you use your mobile device or video game consoles. It makes significant use of social media and a variety of other applications that permit you to take full advantage of, and contribute to, the information that was on the Internet… and continues to today as people contribute more and more information.

web30cvr_0All of the information you ever wanted to know or access. An overwhelming amount of information. All of the Tweets. All of the comments and all of the forums. All of the YouTube videos – a hundred hours of video uploaded every minute! Trillions of items of information. Each of them requiring a web page. Each making finding an answer to your searches more difficult. Just think of the last time you tried to research buying a pair of shoes, or a camera, or a more complicated purchase, such as a trip. You needed to do the research…. you need to ask the right questions….and you need to wade through troves of data. In fact, the current search engines may soon no longer be able to cope with the overwhelming amounts of data that are accumulating on the Internet.

The Web’s structure is geared for humans, who can visit a web page and understand what it is about. Computers cannot do that. While a search engine can scan for keywords, it cannot understand the context in which you those keywords are used on a web page.

Web 3.0Many experts believe that Web 3.0 browser be able to analyze your question, scan and interpret information on web pages using programs that crawl through the Web, search for answers and organize the results for you. Many experts believe that Web 3.0 will act like a personal assistant. As you use the internet, the browser will learn about you, getting to know your preferences and using other information, such as your location, be able to find things that will appeal to you.

But first, the back-end of the internet will need to be rebuilt. People are working on that now. The Semantic Web will use collections of files that defines the relationships among a group of terms. These collections, called ontologies, will be possible when information on web pages is coded for computers to read. This will take a lot of work. But when it is done, combined with emerging technologies, Web 3.0 promises to bring you a richer and more relevant experience. More importantly, it will set the stage for future evolutions of the Internet where it is almost certain to bring you a Brave New World Wide Web!

Click on the link below to see a video primer for what’s about to come. What do you think about Web 3.0?

Web 3-0
Web 3.0 The Story of the Semantic Web  


Social Media – Key Game Changer in Russia’s Information War – (Post #5)

Menace_of_UnrealityInformation warfare has become a primary form of warfare in the 21st Century. And social media is playing a huge role in it. One need not look further than the ongoing battles in the Middle East and in Ukraine. Yes, information has always played an important role in warfare and there is still a lot of traditional or conventional fighting going on in places all around the world. But, information has moved from the periphery of the battlespace to its centre. A clear example of this is how Russia dominated the information domain leading up to the seizing of Crimea and continues to do so around the crisis in Ukraine.  Remember how Russia effectively and persistently denied its soldiers were in Crimea, only to admit the fact when those same soldiers seized the territory earlier this year? In a recently released report entitled The Menace of Unreality:  How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money, prominent journalists, Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev, bring to our attention how the Kremlin’s propaganda and disinformation machine works and the challenges it brings to the West.

RT logoWhile the communications tools in Russia’s information arsenal are many, including the vastly expanding television network RT, used to broadcast disinformation in many languages throughout the Western world, the authors single out the internet and social media as key game changers in the weaponization of information.

YT RT New World DisorderFor one thing, social media is providing traditional media greater access to international audiences. The report states that RT (formerly Russia Today) claims to have a billion hits on YouTube, where its postings can be viewed with little association to their source. Other Kremlin-sponsored news agencies post material directly online, not unlike Western media. But, unlike Western media, a lot of information from Russian sources are not verified as truth before publishing.

Facebook and Twitter are being used by the Russian government and its supporters to add their online voices to issues. More voices are generated through the use of “armies of trolls” who wage online war by contributing to the comment sections and responding to Tweets of the West. These comments are not necessarily meant to persuade people, but to complicate and delay Western Kremlin's Troll Armyjournalists in their search for the truth. The impact is not insignificant. The Kremlin’s so-called Internet-troll army inundated the UK’s Guardian with 40,000 comments a day in a coordinated Kremlin attack when the newspaper was reporting on the Malaysian Airline’s Flight MH17 that was shot down over Ukraine earlier this year.

And, of course, adding to the confusion, the internet permits fake photos and reports to be posted, which then can be reported in traditional media as facts. When the volume of reporting is intensified, it becomes more and more difficult to discern what is real and what is not.

While social media brings a lot of positive benefits, it also has a downside.  Social media is quickly turning into a weapon of choice for those dictatorships and governments that want to manipulate their own societies as well as their enemies.

Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev offer some suggestions for dealing with this in their report, which can be downloaded here.

VIA Rail Jumps On The Social Media Train – (Post #4)

While returning by train to Ottawa from business in Toronto on Saturday, pondering what I could share with you this week, I suddenly realized that I was sitting on the subject of this week’s blog – the train! Or, rather, the company that runs the trains.

Looking into how VIA Rail runs its social media program, I discovered a very thorough and clearly laid out policy for the use of social media by its employees.

Recognizing that its employees, customers and stakeholders are likely to engage in social media, this policy establishes guidelines for VIA Rail’s own social media presence.


VIA has hired a Social Media Community Manager to supervise social media activities through a cross-functional committee of Social Media Champions. These champions have the responsibility to represent VIA Rail online using the company’s various social media accounts, which include the VIAEvolution Blog, a blog with provides insight into VIA Rail’s transformation as explained by its managers, complementing the passenger and stakeholder dialogue initiated in 2001 through VIA’s Website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

VIA encourages its employees to use their personal social media accounts to engage and promote VIA and its services, but underscores that only the Social Media Champions are permitted to post on company social media accounts. VIA Rail’s policy lays out very clear guidelines and rules on the use of social media and outlines the consequences for inappropriate use of social media by its employees.

PassengersAn example of how important it is to have a social media program in place is underscored by a July 31, 2014 Montreal Gazette article, Derailed train cancels Montreal to Toronto Via Rail service.

In an article about a train accident, the newspaper reported, “Two hours after the accident, passengers on the stranded train began complaining of the long wait for buses on social media. Via Rail’s official Twitter account responded promptly in most cases, apologizing and explaining “many buses (are) needed and availability is limited on long weekend.”

Picture12The recognition in advance of the customers’ use of social media and the ability to respond immediately, permitted VIA Rail to get its side of the story out in a timely manner, thereby reducing the negative impact of the comments made by frustrated customers and helping restore calm.

social-media-strategy-at-via-rail-3-728In a Slideshare presentation, Richard Marginson outlined the additional financial benefits a social media strategy provides VIA Rail. Based on a week-long campaign in September 2011, VIA Rail received 1,285,221 impressions, as well as numerous photos, videos and blog posts. The traditional media value of 1.3 million impressions was estimated between $10,000 to $20,000. In addition, the traditional production value for print, radio and TV was as high as $200,000. The out of pocket cost to VIA Rail: only $2,500!

It is time that more organizations jumped on the social media train, and they could learn a lot about how to do it from VIA Rail.

By the way, my trip on the train from Toronto to Ottawa was a wonderful experience – I usually travel by air – and I am looking forward to travelling by rail on my next short-haul business trip.

a more human way

Social Media in Crises – Some tough lessons (Post #3)


Recent tragic events in Ottawa have brougOttawa Shooting 20141022ht the focus back on the impact of social media during crises. Already, discussion is taking place in the mainstream media and on social media channels about how social media can have an impact on the work of security teams during a crisis and how rumors and incorrect information can cause people to over react.

Although the tragic shooting of Corporal Natahan Cirillo stuck close to home, ironically, I was outside of the country at the time.  I was participating in an international crisis communications exercise with diplomats and military officers from across Europe and Western Asia when the armed attack on Canada’s National War Memorial and Parliament occurred in Ottawa on October 22nd.  Immediately discussion turned to the “Ottawa shootings”, as events unfolded on social media and were picked up and reported on by journalists around the world.

While much has already been analyzed and discussed, the following five observations stand out for me.

1. How information is reported has changed.

“The process of journalism no longer just happens behind closed doors in newsrooms,” states Alfred Herottawa shooting word-cloudmida in a October 25 report on TheTyee. “The making of the news takes place in public. Every twist and turn is described, discussed and dissected on an instant news network open to all, for better or worse. Twitter, in particular, serves as a public square for updates, speculation, opinions and emotions.” (Ottawa Shooting News as Immediate, Messy, Public Process _ The Tyee.htm)


2. Unverified information contributes to the confusion and fear.

One downside to public discussion of unverified information is best summed up by Scott Taylor, Esprit de Corps magazine, who writes, “If there is one lesson to be learned from last Wednesday’s tragic incident in the nation’s capital, it is that social media now permits us to terrorize ourselves into mass hysteria.”

So much incorrect information was being generated and repeated during the shooting event that the centre of the city was locked down for several hours until the authorities could figure out what was going on.

(Scott Taylor, Esprit de Corps magazine) http://espritdecorps.ca/ontarget/2014/10/29/social-media-brewed-hysteria-during-ottawa-shooting

3. Information on the location and tactics of security forces discussed on social media can make it difficult, or even deadly, for the authorities to restore order.

As the Ryerson Review of Journalism highlights in an article, Live-tweeting an attack could endanger journalists and citizens:  http://rrj.ca/live-tweeting-an-attack-could-endanger-journalists-and-citizens/

Screen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-10.47.46-PM1023 shooting 010.JPGIt goes on to say that “Online content should be reported as carefully as print content and, when possible, subjected to full editing, says the Canadian Association of Journalists in its ethical guidelines. It also says that speed should never compromise accuracy, credibility or fairness.”

The Ryerson report continues, stating that, “Many journalists started tweeting out photographs and posts describing their exact location, and some posted photographs and videos of officers across the city. Others may have given away their locations, even if they didn’t mean to. If they had enabled location services on Twitter previously, each current tweet would have a specific address or neighbourOttawa Shooting 20141022hood attached to it, allowing anyone to see the exact location of the sender.”

4. Traditional Mass Media turns to what is being reported on social media to fill the void and promotes social media as the source for breaking news, as highlighted on this Global News TV report: http://globalnews.ca/video/1630292/ottawa-shooting-developments-play-out-on-social-media/

Even as far away as the United Kingdom, The Guardian was outlining for the world how the events were unfolding on social media: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/22/canadian-parliament-shooting-social-media

5. Social media permits citizens to participate in ongoing events, whether to grieve openly, mourn, or comment on the events.

As highlighted by CBC news, “Canadians flocked to social media in the aftermath of an attack on Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, tweeting messages of support to the shaken city of Ottawa. Citizens across the country praised the first responders who tended to the victim as well as the officers who worked to secure the city. Here is a stream of the tweets:”

These lessons come at a terrible price. OuB0odIj1IQAA0E07r heartfelt condolences go out to the families, friends and loved ones of the two unarmed members of the Canadian Forces, Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who were violently attacked and killed while on duty where they should have been safe, here in Canada, potentially changing this country, as we know it, forever.

CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS? – Social Media in Times of Crises

crise-vin-vin-crise-L-2How would you use social media in a crisis?  I’m not talking about the kinds of crises caused by social media, say, when your social marketing mistakes go viral; but, rather, how social media impacts on how you deal with other crises to your brand reputation.

Traditionally, organizations dealt with the mass media to communicate with their primary stakeholder audiences during a crisis.  While this is still critically important, social media creates a whole new layer of complexity in trying to protect or rescue your brand when things go wrong.  In fact, the inability to address the dialogue bout your brand on social media may exacerbate the problem, undermining any influence you may be having through the traditional mass media.

This means extra resources are needed during a crisis in order to monitor what is being said about your brand on the social media channels that your stakeholders care about.  And you need the capability to react quickly to inaccuracies and criticism before they build momentum.


I have spoken with some organizations that use Twitter as their first line of defence when something goes wrong.  They tweet acknowledgement of the challenge they are facing, provide notices of updates, and direct people to where they can learn more.  This is usually another social media channel, such as a company Facebook site or a company web site.  Another thing many organizations do in a crisis is push out video on YouTube and other channels to help provide an audio and visual perspective – the most effective way of communicating – on what steps are being taken to address the issue that is causing the crisis.

Of note, however, regardless of the advances in technology, the basic principles about communicating during times of crises remain the same.

As Ulrich Gartner, of Gartner Communications, states in an article posted on the International Public Relations web site, “While social media provide a whole new set of challenges and opportunities, it should also be said that fundamentals of crisis communication management don’t change, especially when it comes to preparedness and strategy.  You’ll still need to do your crisis mapping.  It will still be your three-step response of showing empathy, dealing with the concrete impact of the crisis, and being transparent about it.  And, of course, traditional mass media will continue to play a critical role in shaping public opinion.  In fact, one could argue that, despite all of the web whisper, a problem turns into a crisis once traditional mass media pick it up (then of course turning a lot of attention to the social media clutter as well).”

But this new dimension that social media brings to crisis management demonstrates the need to already have a social media presence and following built up with your stakeholders before a potential crisis strikes.  There is no time to do this after a crisis hits.

Companies need to understand who is out there talking about them.  They need to become a member of those communities and engage in the conversations that are taking place.  And they should ensure that they have open lines of communications with their own employees.

But this costs money.  And the costs of maintaining a social media presence may be greater for those organizations not engaged in the marketplace, where the direct benefits are not realized through increased sales.  However, the cost of not investing in a social media presence may be even greater if an organization’s reputation is lost as a result of runaway conversations during a crisis.

All organizations need a plan to deal with potential crises.  All organizations need to invest in social media and include social media in their crises communications plans.



Social Media – A Brave New World or A Threat to Society? (COM0011)

How has Social Media changed you? Here are some questions worth thinking about – if you still think for yourself.

Has Social Media changed the way you communicate? While the answer may seem obvious to most, perhaps what is not so obvious how it is changing the way we think, feel and act.

That impact is not lost on governments and large organizations as they scramble to exploit the array of communications channels that call themselves Social Media.

How do you use Social Media? How many channels do you follow? How many hours of the day are you engaged? Do you ever disengage?! It is said that time is your most valuable commodity. Are you getting a good return on investment for your time spent on Social Media?

Are you more interested in the twitterverse than the universe? Last Friday, according to one person who was there at the time, during a lively Senators versus Canadiens hockey game in Ottawa more people (who incidentally paid hundreds of dollars for their tickets in the premium level seats) were busier working their smart phones than watching the game play out in front of them. Were they disengaged? Or does Social Media allow them to feel more engaged and part of the action? Or is a fast-paced action game alone simply not enough excitement any more for our faster-paced Social Media society?

How short is your attention span? How quickly do you move onto the next great thing? Do you need to constantly check your e-mail or FaceBook or LinkedIn sites? Do you reach for your phone at the signal of a Tweet? Or in the absence of one? Are you lonely tonight, afraid you might be missing out on what someone might be commenting on?

Do you prefer in-depth analyses of issues, or are you content to simply glance through headlines and leads? Happy just to have a broader sense of what is going on around you. Wider and not deeper.

Images and headlines. Info graphics. Tweets. And interesting tidbits of information to lure you down threads of clickable content that lead you to distraction.

How do they influence you? How did you react to the recent graphic beheadings of American and British citizens posted on You Tube by groups in the Middle East? Were you appalled? Enraged? Or was it just another video in a torrent that competed for your attention this week?

How accurate is the information you receive… and pass on to others? Do you stop to question that accuracy in the urge to be first with the latest information?

Much to QMI Agency’s chagrin, they were first to publish that Sidney Crosby was arrested in Ottawa for drunk driving last month, only to learn through a Tweet from Ottawa’s Chief of Police that the Ottawa Police had no dealings with Mr. Crosby… and further learned that Sidney was not even in Canada at the time! QMI Agency boasts on its website that it is French and English Canada’s leading news reference. What about us mere mortals? We should fear for our immediate outrage on hearing unsubstantiated information that cause Social Media Kangaroo Courts to suddenly surface, drawing in thousands, including political leaders, who do not want to be left out in the haste to offer their judgment, without knowing the facts, wading further into uncertain waters.

And whose truth is it anyway? Who did you believe when Russia took Crimea by force, hurtling western Europe back into an era of politics long thought behind us.

According to a paper prepared for Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Centre, Jill Dougherty, a former Moscow bureau chief for CNN, writes that “…battle is being waged with a dizzying array of modern weapons, including electronic media, digital communications, blogs and social media. “Previously, there was artillery preparation before an attack,” Dmitry Kiselev, Russian television anchorman and head of a new government information agency, says. “Now, it’s informational preparation.”

“…for Moscow, the conflict in Ukraine is accelerating profound changes … the centralization and mobilization of information resources in the hands of the state, providing the Kremlin—and President Vladimir Putin—the means to galvanize public opinion domestically and in the region, as well as forcefully assert Russia’s policies, views and—increasingly—values internationally.

Putin has succeeded in dominating the media landscape within his own country and parts of Ukraine. Now, the Kremlin has set its sights on a broader international audience and is rebuilding the media and propaganda structures that collapsed, along with the Soviet Union, two decades ago.”

Social Media is playing a huge role in this.

According to an article by Forbes Magazine contributor, Paul Roderick Gregory, although Vladimir Putin secretly handed out awards to 300 journalists for their “objective coverage” of events in Ukraine “… Left out are the equally important invisible cogs of his propaganda machine; namely, the social networkers, rumor-mongerers, and the armies of trolls, poised to attack any unfavorable media. This invisible, clandestine army, toiling away in obscurity, is an indispensable weapon in peddling the Russian narrative of “neo-Nazi extremists” backed by the U. S. state department and NATO, who usurped control from the “democratically-elected” Ukrainian president. We know Putin’s visible media and can evaluate it as such. We cannot say the same for Putin’s social media warriors, who operate behind a veil of secrecy, anonymity, and assumed identities.”

But not all users of social media are treated equal in Russia, according to Robert W. Orttung and Christopher Walker, who wrote in a Freedom House Blog. (see http://freedomhouse.org/blog/russias-media-imperialism#.VDH3TIapsYs) They state that the repressive “bloggers law” signed by President Putin on May 6 says a good deal about the troubling decline of free expression in Russia. They say this measure comes on the heels of a series of other laws that have recently been put in place to restrict television, books, films, and certain public performances, further curtailing Russia’s already besieged media space.

As the Social Media armies pump out more and more information and disinformation, saturating the blogosphere and other social media channels, will there simply be too much? Will we lose our ability to record and recall history? Will we remember what was said yesterday? And, then, how will we react to what is said tomorrow?

Like it or not, there is no going back. Social Media is here to stay, at least until it morphs into the next phase of our communication evolution. As we tentatively or wholeheartedly embrace Social Media as a preferred way of communicating one with on another, it will continue to affect our lives and change how we consume information. It will change how we think, perceive and act, or react, as individuals and as groups. We need to decide how much it will change us and to what extent we trust governments and major organizations to be involved.

Do you agree? How will you use Social Media?

Info-graphics: “Dumbing things down” or “Clearing things up”?  An info-graphic  from the recent Russia / Ukraine conflict.  (Source:  RIA Russian News Agency)