Point of View: The World Wise Web

Tracey Follows
JWT London

Tim Berners-Lee once dreamt about the Semantic Web and the rise of intelligent agents – software that can filter information, mine data and make decisions for us. When that day comes, will we need ad agencies, or planners? Will advertising become just another algorithm? Will the internet swallow planning, in the way that it has swallowed so much of advertising communications already, from the classified press to our everyday TV?

This is where I like to turn to Weike and his sense-making philosophy, because Weike suggests that unlike computers, human wisdom contains the tension between both knowing and not knowing. So, wisdom is a kind of judgment, and is quite different to knowledge, which is based on fact. That wisdom is what planners should aspire to, not knowledge. Machines, as Berners-Lee envisions, may one day have more knowledge, but wisdom will only ever reside in people. To put it another way: "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in the fruit salad."