How the Internet Might Grow a ‘Heart’

What if there were a way for you to directly help the neediest families in your community and the world — or for help to find you, after a fire, flood or some personal tragedy — without the involvement of a government agency, nonprofit organization or church? What if assistance could flow seamlessly, based on information routinely collected and resources instantly deployed online?It has been nearly a decade since Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee first talked about a “semantic,” or intelligent Web. His idea was that computers and the Internet might someday do more than simply process commands and searches. They might eventually have the capability to know what information we need and be able to deliver it without us first having to ask.Since that time, the amount of information available online has risen dramatically — and, according to an IBM study, by 2010, the amount of digital information in the world will double every 11 hours. More strikingly, people are voluntarily supplying the Web with personal information through social networking, blogging and Internet transactions. A recent Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found that the majority of online adults (61%) do not feel compelled to limit the amount of information that can be found about them on the Web.

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