Giant Global Graph: from the publisher-oriented web to the viewer-oriented web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee coined a new term again. This time it is called the Giant Global Graph.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee coined a new term again. This time it is called the Giant Global Graph. GGG is a compound concept that can be interpreted in various ways. One of the interpretations, however, immediately grasps me: in contrast to that the WWW abstraction organizes Internet information from the publisher-oriented aspect, the GGG abstraction organizes Internet information from the viewer-oriented aspect. The web evolution demands a new abstraction layer of Internet.

Two Views of Internet Information Organization

We can view the Internet information organization from two opposite aspects: one is from the web publisher's aspect and the other is from the web viewer's aspect. Respectively I call them the publisher-oriented view and the viewer-oriented view.

According to Sir Tim, the WWW abstraction is trying to address that "it isn't the computers, but the documents which are interesting." Publishers upload their organized information (in documents) onto the Web. Therefore, the traditional WWW abstraction of Internet information is based on publishers' point of view. The information presented at the Web layer (specified by TBL) is publisher-oriented.

This publisher-oriented web, however, does not facilitate web information manipulation. The reason is simple: when manipulating web information, web users are playing the role of web viewer instead of the role of web publisher. Due to the view conflict, it is difficult to perform search on the basis of the viewer' view over information that is stored by the publisher's view. To solve this problem, a fundamental request is to organize web information onto a new abstraction layer that is presented on the basis of the web viewer's view. At this new abstraction layer, the Web becomes the viewer-oriented web. Sir Tim named this new layer to be Giant Global Graph.

The fundamental units at WWW (the Web layer) are web pages (documents). The fundamental units at GGG (the Graph layer) are social graphs. When we compare a web page to a social graph, a web page contains a set of information organized by the publisher while a social graph contains a set of information organized by the viewer. This difference represents the most fundamental distinction between the WWW and the GGG. Since both a web page at WWW and a social graph at GGG play the same role in their respective abstraction layer, we may assign a general name for both of them. In fact, I have already proposed a name for such a role in my web evolution theory. The name is web space.

I have predicted that the web evolution is ultimately shown as the evolution of web spaces. On Web 1.0, web space is shown as homepage, a typical form of web pages. So Web 1.0 was a typical publisher-oriented web. On Web 2.0, web spaces become individual accounts. Individual accounts contains information that is organized by both the publisher's view and the viewer's view. From one side, every account belongs to a particular web site. Therefore, the information organization inside an account is dominated by the website publisher's view. For example, I have a YouTube account in which I cannot associate a blog post at Blogger to a saved favorite song. Why? It is because the owners of YouTube has decided for me that such an association is not in their view, and thus it should not in my view either. On the other hand, however, a user account does provide web viewers limited freedom to organized information by their own views. For example, I really can organize different songs on YouTube by my own viewpoints though the association between a song and a blog post is prohibited. This analysis tells us that Web-2.0 personal accounts are transitional products between the publisher-oriented web and the viewer-oriented web. Since we are not able to directly upgrade the Web to its viewer-oriented aspect, the emergence of this type of transitional products is both necessary and certain. Web 2.0 is in a transition from the publisher-oriented web to the viewer-oriented web.

Following this path, on the next generation web (or we may call it the Web 3.0) web space will be shown as a typical viewer-oriented information-organization unit. Or by using Sir Tim's word, a web space at Web 3.0 will be a social graph. In each social graph, web users re-organize their information of interest based on their own view in contrast to the view of the original information publishers. Web-3.0 spaces will be more likely the viewer-side home-spaces in contract to the publisher-side home-pages on Web 1.0. By connecting all these Web-3.0 spaces (or social graphs) together we get the Giant Global Graph.


From the viewpoint of web evolution, the transition from the publisher-oriented web to the viewer-oriented web is inevitable. The proposal of Giant Global Graph from Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the newest evidence to this claim. Besides Sir Tim, this transition is also shown in the newest industry achievements. A typical example is the announcement of Twine. If we associate Twine to the proposal of GGG, we can see that what Twine does is exactly to re-organize web information from the publisher-oriented view to the viewer-oriented view. This is why Twine is so significant to most of the other Web-2.0 products. Twine is very close to be a real Web 3.0 product, though the current beta version is still lack of something essential.

This post is a compact version of a longer analysis of Giant Global Graph at Thinking Space.