I'm attending the Talis Insight conference, our bi-annual conference for our Library and Education sector customers. It's a two day event and a phenomenal undertaking for a company the size of Talis. I'm sure that companies ten times our size would struggle to put on an event of this quality. Every detail seems just right, even the fact that the name badges are double sided so that when they inevitably turn over you can still see who you're talking to!
It's great to attend an event as an insider and, because I'm not presenting this year, I have some headspace to observe, talk to and think about the participants. My over-arching impression is that there's a buzz about the place and a sense that Talis are delivering on what we said we'd do. And people are engaged with the Web 2.0 ideas of social participation via blogs, wikis, social networks and instant messaging. Three years ago Talis were regarded as somewhat delusional that this Web 2.0 thing would have any significance for libraries but we stuck to our convictions and kept on with the Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 themes. Now we have people attending the conference purely to find out how Web 2.0 ideas can be used in reader development or information literacy and speakers like Euan Semple keynoting. Of course we think that the principles of Web 2.0 are here to stay. It's arrived but it's only one stop on the journey. We're looking to the next wave: call it Web 3.0, Semantic Web, Semantic Wave or the Semantic Edge. The precise name we agree on as a community doesn't matter, it's the underlying changes that do. It's the introduction of richer semantics and metadata into and around content, the interpretation of that and, most importantly, the art of making that usable by the ordinary person on the street. When it arrives it is going to have huge social, economic and technical impacts in the same way that the orginal Web did as did the recent wave of social participation we label Web 2.0. And of course, Talis are going to be there to coax, evangelise and persuade the industry to face these changes. It's still very early days, but there are exciting times ahead!