What could the future of the Web bring?

Click here to listen to a podcast from Rod Smith, IBM Fellow and vice president, emerging technologies, and Stefan Nusser, Senior Manager, User Systems and Experience Research, at Almaden Research Center, on how the Web is becoming smarter. Also, be sure to read all about the Smarter Web Open House. 


IBM Research shines at Smarter Web event in SF

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web. Today, social networking and software-as-a-service are an almost seamless part of our daily experience. What comes next?

As we enter the Web's third decade, the digital and physical worlds are converging in many ways. The Web is on the edge to make another large jump. All of the parts are in place. 

In fact, computational power is being put into things we wouldn't recognize as computers. 

The world is becoming more instrumented with 30 billion RFID tags produced globally in the next two years, all kinds of sensors and explosion of digitized videos.  We’re more interconnected with broadband and 4 billion cell phone subscribers to access the mobile web.

This week, Rod Smith, IBM Fellow and vice president, emerging technologies, and Stefan Nusser, Senior Manager, User Systems and Experience Research, at Almaden Research Center, opened its prized research vault to showcase a selection of some of IBM’s Web innovations for a sneak peek into tomorrow's smarter Web.
Here are some of the cool ways that IBM Researchers are pushing the browser to be smarter -- both for consumers and for the enterprise. 

Featured Projects

Blue Spruce with Massive Mashups: A new way to collaborate


Using the browser as a platform, IBM is exploring a new wave of smarter Web applications to address the most pressing societal and business issues.  IBM researchers have combined different Web components – data mashups, live video, audio, graphics – all on the same browser page, allowing multiple users to “huddle” online, interact with these components in real-time and see each others’ changes over a standard Internet connection. For example, imagine a virtual room where teams of medical experts can simultaneously discuss, review and whiteboard medical test data. Massive Mashup, a new technology designed to complement BlueSpruce’s capabilities, searches and organizes unstructured data to more clearly visualize hidden connections and relationships.

CoScripter: Collaborative Scripting for the Web


With the amount of time most of us spend online, we could all benefit from shared knowledge about how we get things done there.  For example, people want to show their parents how to upload photos, biologists want to show colleagues how to analyze data and employees need to know how to order business cards. IBM Research’s CoScripter system employs techniques from programming by demonstration to make it easy for people to capture, share and automate scripts for completing web-based tasks. A unique new feature lets people continuously record their web actions in the background and selectively publish them.  People can also share them with their social networks on sites like Facebook or publish scripts on their blog.  CoScripter is available as a FireFox plug-in athttp://coscripter.research.ibm.com.

Highlight: Mobilizing Existing Web Sites


The mobile web is changing how we use the Internet and what kind of content we want or need to access online. Highlight gives people the ability to create mobile applications from existing web sites and deploy these personalized applications to mobile devices. Currently, most websites aren’t optimized for mobile devices and this technology makes it easier to navigate web sites on small screens without clutter or content that you just don’t need on-the-go.

Play-by-Play: Lightweight Collaborative Web Browsing Through Instant Messaging

Play by Play 

Play-by-Play is a general-purpose tool for the Web that uses instant messaging to support collaborative browsing tasks such as customer support and search.  The technology is especially handy in on-the-go scenarios when a mobile user needs help from someone sitting at a computer.

Social Networks and Discovery (SaND): Showing Six Degrees of Separation


SaND combines social discovery and social networking into one platform, highlighting relationships between people by searching and analyzing a wealth of information and tags found in a variety of data sources from papers to patents and blog posts to social applications, Lotus Connections and more. This research technology does more than suggest that you should connect to someone; it has the ability to show underlying relationships and provide levels of context to how you may be connected to someone. You can also build applications such as unified search, recommendation and personalization systems, expertise locators, and more with this framework.



Privacy-aware MarketPlace: The Ultimate In Privacy Management


Privacy-aware MarketPlace is designed to provide total control over privacy settings on social networking sites.  Based on privacy models and algorithms, this software takes advantage of the social graphs used by Facebook, Orkut, OpenSocial and other social networks to construct stronger privacy protection. This application lets users calculate their "Privacy Score," much like a credit score, and recommends privacy settings. We’ll show how you could resell a gift received from friends in your social network without embarrassing them or to search for a job without letting your current employer know about it of coworkers are in his network.  Try PaMP at http://apps.facebook.com/p_a_m_p/.

Cleaner Water with Desalination Membrane

Smart Bay, Smart Water


Guest blogger: Laura Haas, Distinguished Engineer and director of computer science at Almaden Research Center

Laura Haas is a Distinguished Engineer and director of computer science at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.  She is going to be a visiting professor at ETH Zurich.

I am about to leave for Zurich, Switzerland, and a 4 month sabbatical at ETH (think of it as the MIT of Switzerland).  To say that I'm excited is an understatement!   IBM Research's (mini-) sabbatical program is a wonderful program that we don't take nearly enough advantage of.  A mini-sabbatical allows researchers to get out of IBM for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, to get fresh ideas from deep interactions with new people, to develop strong(er) relationships at key universities, and to grow technically and professionally.   I hope that my sabbatical will help send a message to our research teams on the importance of renewal to research – surely if I can step out of my comfy (and busy) Director role to learn and grow, it will inspire others to be willing to do the same.

So what am I planning to do in Zurich?  Well, besides skiing, eating lots of chocolate (and other delicacies), hiking, and generally enjoying Switzerland, I have set a few goals for myself.  I would like to write a retrospective on the foundational work we did in the mid-1990's on heterogeneous information integration in the Garlic project.  I intend to explore with a colleague from the University of Toronto some new ideas on a simpler, more powerful model for information integration.  And I hope that I will have the opportunity as well to join one of the ETH projects in their systems group (my hosts), and contribute to their research while absorbing new ideas and learning about new areas.

If all goes well, this should be good for me, good for my team, and good for IBM.  Now let’s just hope I don’t eat so much that I roll back home.