If people can talk about Web2.0 and Where2.0, then why not When2.0?

When is definitely important. Time is arguably the most valuable resource we have. We can produce everything else, well almost everything, but can not produce extra time. Since we have only limited time and conflicting demands on our time, we as a society have always been developing tools and technology to make our time more productive, exciting, enjoyable, and rewarding. So it is important that we pay attention to time.

Interestingly, on the Web time has not received as much attention as it should have. In many applications of computing, time plays critical role. Obviously, we could not develop all this wonderful control and monitoring technology ranging from space to healthcare if our computers could not deal with time effectively. So it is not that in computing time was ignored. It is just that in information systems, time has not received as much attention. And the reason is clearly the focus in information systems on ‘persistence’. From early days, information systems were designed for persistent data because it was assumed that most valuable data is persistent. As technology evolved and Internet enable the largest information system of all — the Web — the legacy continued. Google, or Yahoo, or MSN all want to index large number of pages but they assume that these pages are going to be ‘persistent’.

The situation is changing rapidly, however. With blogs, and its variants like podcasting, people are becoming more interested in the data that is after all not so persistent. And with increasing number of sensors carried by people — in the for of camera phones — the situation is changing rapidly. With sensors creating live data every where, the time and place (not in cyberspace but the real world) becomes more important. This reduces the importance of persistence. In fact, it maybe that soon our systems will be dealing with more ephemeral data than persistent data and will be providing meaningful information and experiences to people. Briefly, time has come to take time seriously.

I was happy to see that Esther Dyson is organizing a conference called When2.0 to discuss issues related to time and timing.

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