Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kalam's Web mantra for societal transformation

HYDERABAD, INDIA: "Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before. It will be a little thing, but do not ignore it. Follow it up, explore all around it; one discovery will lead to another, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about...”

With this quote from Alexander Graham Bell, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, started his keynote address at the 20th International Worldwide Web Conference, Hyderabad, on Wednesday.

Dr. Kalam centered his keynote address around "Web for societal transformation". Addressing the over 700 delegates he said the Web has had a glorious existence over two decades and has revolutionized the way we work and live.

"It has been the catalyst for proliferating information across boundaries, enabling effective communication and 24/7 service availability, all leading to a digital, information-based economy that we have today."

However, he said, its direct influence has reached only a small percentage of human population. He advised Indian enterprises to adopt a mindset to spread their wings to reach to the unreached by a mix of global approach with a local cultural accent. "That would enrich all the sectors of the economy thereby promoting economic progress in the developing world."

The ordinary citizen in a rural area, by proper communication and appropriate tools, may have to be convinced that the investment and time on World Wide Web is indeed useful for ultimately increasing his/her per-capita income. They must feel that the value-added service is worth extending their native knowledge, increasing their productivity, opening new horizons for themselves and their children, he added.

"Suppose a farmer or a home maker in a village using his or her mobile phone, should be able to ask a question in the local language. This question would be translated into multitudes of other languages used for searching the knowledge base. It should cull out the right information instead of giving tonnes of irrelevant data for a certain type specific question or key words or combination of both in verbal form,” he said.

Also Read: Translation is now a mouse click away

“The culled out information may be collated, they translate them back to the language in which the query was raised and human like voice output with the friendliness and affection of a teacher is transmitted to the phone all in a blink,” added Kalam.

He asked researchers to think of building such a system or standard or tool using the emerging Web 3.0 technologies which is called Semantic Web, so that machines can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.

“A new revolution will set in to make a difference to the life of the common man using the Web 3.0 technologies. It has a direct impact on the lives of the 700 million people who are living in the rural areas and will benefit a number of other developing countries using the mobile device as their Personal Knowledge Assistant, instead them having to learn to use the computer to access the necessary right information in right time,” he said


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