I'm interested in how humans attempt to extract value from the flood of information they create (search for my earlier posts on "Myth, Media and Meta"), devising more and more effective ways of extracting this value. My candidate for the next big thing in this regard is what's labeled the Semantic Web, which the anonymous authors of Wikipedia describe as:
... an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily. It derives from W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange. ...
In a 2001 article in Scientific American, Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila described it in some detail. The article, The Semantic Web, is still freely available on its web site.
The December 2007 issue of the same magazine has very good update on this effort, titled The Semantic Web In Action (authors: Lee Feigenbaum, Ivan Herman, Tonya Hongsermeier, Eric Neumann and Susie Stephens). Unfortunately, the Scientific American web site currently has it available for paid access only and that payment is greater than the cost of the magazine, so look for it on newstands before it disappears. Highly recommended.
Also see Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall and Tim Berners-Lee, The Semantic Web Revisited, IEEE Intellilgent Systems, May/June 2006 and, for the technically inclined, the World Wide Web Consortium's W3C Semantic Web Activity page. --Dennis