Semantic Web

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Module 3: Your Internet Footprint
Tags: , , , , ,

I found this introduction to the Semantic Web very informative.

Syntax is how you say something whereas semantics is the meaning of what you say.

(msporny, 2007)

Computers not only reading data but being able to understand it.  Knowing what we like … and, more importantly predicting what we want before we even have to ask is the true value of the Semantic Web.

I believe an example of this is the data detectors in Apple’s OSX, which I utilise on my MacBook just about every day.  If I get an email from someone – say, John – who has asked for a meeting “at 3pm tomorrow in the board room”, the computer sees  the time, date and location and can automatically add an appointment to my calendar, using that data.

Pulling the threads of the Web together and making meaning of the chaos will  revolutionise the way we use the Internet.  Berners-Lee, Hendler & Lassila (2001) predicted the “eventual creation of programs that collect Web content from diverse sources, process the information and exchange the results with other programs.”  This is something websites like Facebook have done for some time now.  However, embracing a public-driven Semantic Web has proven somewhat troublesome.  Following Facebook’s “Open Graph” announcement in May 2010, which included a vision of a consumer Semantic Web, people are sceptical of the company’s intentions.  Read Write Web writer Alex Iskold blogged on May 6 201o that on close inspection “Facebook’s intent is not to make the Web more structured, but instead to engineer a way for more data – mostly unstructured – to flow into Facebook databases.”  It seems Facebook doesn’t want to create a better, more structured Web – Facebook wants to be the Web.

As a postnote, I watched the Google Wave overview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6pgxLaDdQw&feature=player_embedded) explaining what Google Wave is all about … or should I say was all about!  Only this week Google announced it was discontinuing Wave (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/update-on-google-wave.html).  I must admit, I got an invitation to Wave back in December 2009 but never used it.  Watching this video, I can see some of the collaborative benefits of Wave and how it could have changed the way people communicate online.  It was probably a little too complicated.  I have heard a number of smart people saying they didn’t know how to use it, which is possibly why the adoption of Wave has been lower than Google’s expectations.  I think it would have been a much better way to hold Web101 discussions than the hard-to-follow Blackboard Discussion Forums.

References

Berners-Lee, T., Hendler, J., Lassila, O. (2001). THE SEMANTIC WEB, Scientific American; May 2001, Vol. 284 Issue 5, p34. Retrieved from http://lms.curtin.edu.au/courses/1/305033-Vice-Chancell-1118175685/content/_1253746_1/dir_Web101.zip/Web101/img/SemanticWeb.pdf on August 7 2010.

Isklod, A. (2010), Does Facebook Really Want a Semantic Web?, Read Write Web, Published May 6 2010. Retrieved from  http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/does_facebook_really_want_a_semantic_web.php on August 7 2010.

Sporny, M. (2007), Intro to the Semantic Web. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGg8A2zfWKg&feature=player_embedded on August 7 2010

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