Thursday, 17 September 2009

Future internet in a globalised world: spoken web

There is an interesting project running in IBM Research: it is about creating a spoken web in parallel to the world wide web:

The World Wide Web is perhaps the greatest technology innovation the world has seen in the last few decades. It has created the largest repository of information, opened new streams of businesses, and transformed the way people communicate. The World Wide Web has helped eliminate geographical barriers and paved the way for global collaboration and integration. All done with a few clicks on our computers.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population on this planet does not have computers or connectivity to the Internet. And the chances of that changing any time soon is probably a distant dream.

The basic principle of Spoken Web lies in creating a system analogous to the World Wide Web using a technology most of us all have in common - speech. Spoken Web helps people create voice sites using a simple telephone, mobile or landline. The user gets a unique phone number which is analogous to a URL and when other users access this voice site they get to hear the content uploaded there. Interestingly, all these voice sites can be interlinked creating a massive network, which can work like the World Wide Web.

Sounds very exciting to me. I could imagine collaboration platforms and social networking platforms emerge in such a spoken web. And in combination with speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies this could even be interlinked with platforms like Twitter. And it might be a further way of overcoming digital divide.

See the website of the IBM India Research Lab for the full article on this project.


Golf Blogs said...

I don't think a spoken web would be nearly as efficient as the world wide web because listening to someone talk takes so much more time than reading what is written. How would you know if you were interested in the website until they got through the whole thing? I think the whole world should go wireless and this wouldn't be an issue. And if this people are too poor to have computers, but they can afford phones-- what?

Jochen Friedrich said...

There are figures that say that the number of mobile phones already exceeds the number of laptops or desktops significantly and will further increase. And in so called "developing countries" cellular phones are by far ahead of landline phones.

But you are right, time will show in how far spoken language can be as attractive as the internet we know and love - and also in competition to iPhones and such like. That's certainly a challenge for the project of spoken web. I am curious to follow how they approach it.