In a post titled, What is Web 3.0?, Nicholas Carr said:
"Web 3.0 involves the disintegration of digital data and software into modular components that, through the use of simple tools, can be reintegrated into new applications or functions on the fly by either machines or people."
And recently I went to a London Geek Girl Dinner, where Paul Amery from Skype (who hosted the event) said
"the next big step forward in software is going to be providing the plumbing, to provide people what they want, where they want …start thinking about plumbing all this software together, joining solutions together… mashups are just the tip of the iceberg".
So why does that matter to us in the cultural heritage sector? Without stretching the analogy too far, we have two possible roles – one, to provide the content that flows through the pipes, ensuring we use plumbing-compatible tubes so that other people can plumb our content into new applications; the second is to build applications ourselves, using our data and others. I think we're are brilliant content producers, and we're getting better at providing re-usable data sources – but we often don't have the resources to do cool things with them ourselves.
Maybe what I'm advocating is giving geeks in the cultural heritage sector the time to spend playing with technology and supplying the tools for agile development. Or maybe it's just the perennial cry of the backend geek who never gets to play with the shiny pretty things. I'm still thinking about this one.