The Missing Piece of the Semantic Web – The Social Browser

Chris Messina made a great presentation at OpenIDux. He basically took the browser and re-imagined it or redesigned it with social in mind.

He based his redesign on three principles – or three verbs. His three verbs were follow, share, and connect.

With those three words Chris hit the nail on the head for what does social mean for people today. As a quick little experiment I typed those three words into my search engine and the #1 result was . . . “FaceBook.” Very interesting.

What are those three words, those social verbs. Were there any other verbs that he tried to use but didn’t help him redesign the browser. What other options did he have?

Perhaps other options might have dealt more with creating meaning. With those 3 social verbs and other social verbs – the idea behind them is that they are all social actions; in that sense the social verbs don’t change the meaning of the object that is changing hands.

Other verbs perhaps learning verbs.

And the big daddy of them all identity

Maybe this moves us closer to using the the semantic web better – we need to also have a semantic browser to browse the semantic and social web. Perhaps the semantic web has been hamstrung by not building first a solid basis of the social. The foundation needs to be first social, then build on top of that. As Brynn Evans pointed out – “the meaning making takes place in social context. The social verbs are the backbone.”

I think Chris Messina has identified a missing piece of the puzzle in the sematic web. They forgot the social foundation.


Thanks @Brynn for your comments on an earlier version of this.

OpenIDux was the event at which Chris Messina talked

Integrating Browser and Social Networks

Social Verbs

3 Responses to “The Missing Piece of the Semantic Web – The Social Browser”

  1. Yesterday, in a conversation with and about the work of Natalie Jeremijenko’s xclinic (, I coined the term, “the Internet of sentient things”. I was trying to capture an idea at the heart of Jeremijenko’s work, namely the use of people as sentient AND internetworked sensors. She wants to see the development of a body of “sensor data” that is the product of “sentient sensors” (my term not hers, though I’m sure others too have had this thought).

    Your post made me think that I might easily have said, an Internet of sentient social things. This is to start to point to the the “leakiness” of what we now call the social web, which, due to the advance of ubicomp and pervasive technologies, is increasingly becoming a phenomenon of technologies and interactions that are coming out from behind “the glass” (i.e. the screen).

    One of the reasons that this stuff begins to matter in profound ways is that to the extent that the distinction between being “online” vs. disconnected is steadily eroded, being Internetworked ceases to become an act of either conscious choice or consent. This untethered ability to extend ourselves will have value and advantages, but also dangers & downsides.

    To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, now when you stare into the Internet, the Internet also stares back into you. This will become an increasingly interesting and important dynamic of the tangled web we are weaving. Beyond the screen, what will our social browsing look like? Hmmmmmmm.

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by dennisschleiche: The Social Web is not enough, we are humans not ants

  3. Michael Leis says:

    Those verbs are very interesting, and to add, when thinking about the social/mobile web I always think about:

    1) Ming Yeow’s Discovery is the new Cocaine, where the social web balances different degrees of your discovery and your chances of being discovered.

    2) Whether we need a central browsing software appliance at all, that the Web will become much more of an industrial design challenge via physical objects rather than apps within them.

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