Game-Changers: 10 Potentially Huge Technologies

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2. Smarter Web

Some call it the Semantic Web; others call it the Smarter Web. The idea is to more easily share complex knowledge you get from the Internet.

IBM Research has developed a Mozilla Firefox extension called CoScripter that is essentially a macro-recorder for the Web. For example, if you figure out how to upload, edit and share a photo, you can record those actions, reuse them and share them with other users. The scripts use common language formatting so they are easy to understand by nonprogrammers.

There have been applets that recorded a mouse's movements for years now. The difference is that CoScripter turns the movements into code that can be understood and edited by consumers. You can even share scripts -- called microformats -- on Facebook and other social networks.

Today, scripts relate to actions you perform on the Web, but they could be expanded to support video and audio. For example, a set of instructions could be embedded with a video that shows how to pitch a curve ball, or a script could include an audio commentary.

CoScripter is smart enough to understand changes that occur on the Web. If you capture a process such as signing up for a conference, CoScripter can store your name, address and other data. When you sign up for the same conference next year and find that the fields have changed, CoScripter can use the data it already has, and you can fill in just the new fields, saving time and easing frustration.

"The number of nodes on the Internet is exploding -- there are 4 billion cell phone subscribers, and the number of people accessing the Web is exploding," says Stefan Nusser, an IBM researcher. "We enable collaboration and capture of Web information and make it reusable."

Other companies working in this area include Yahoo and Google.

3. Network virtualization

Server virtualization is one of the most important game-changers of the past decade. The idea -- using one physical server for multiple instances or even types of an operating system -- has saved millions of dollars and has streamlined data center operations across the globe. Next up: network virtualization.

As an application makes a request, the network would be smart enough to meet that request with an appropriate level of storage and connectivity. Services could be housed and transmitted to and from any endpoint, not just on servers or client devices. Networks could support multiple transmission types, including corporate data, cellular traffic, voice over IP, video, audio and unified communication/telepresence. And the network would be smart enough to optimize traffic in real time.

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