The Semantic Web = Shit Has Meaning

So, I signed up to be a beta tester for this upcoming website called Twine after reading about it on Slashdot. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks that the Semantic Web idea is HOT, as their welcome email said I was one of tens of thousands of requests they’ve gotten.

As demonstrated in the comments section of the Slashdot article, this technology (and Twine in particular) has its critics. But, for the time being I’m going to remain optimistic, since I like the idea of organizing a bunch of my stuff in one place. Without actually having to do it myself.

There is plenty of speculation about what Web 3.0 might entail. Mashups? Artificial intelligence? Customization? 3D? And the Semantic Web concept of a “web with meaning” seems to be a main ingredient.

For more on what a Semantic Web would entail, click here. As the tutorial explains, it’s about the relationship between things and the properties of things, rather than just links between web pages. The Semantic Web uses RDF (Resource Description Framework – a markup language for describing information) to allow computer programs to aggregate information. So, basically, you let the web do some of your thinking for you and organize information pertinent to you, your interests, and your contacts in an easily searchable way. Tim Berners-Lee, the WWW pioneer, puts it nicely:

“If HTML and the Web made all the online documents look like one huge book, RDF, schema, and inference languages will make all the data in the world look like one huge database.”

Technology Review gives a nice little breakdown of how Twine aggregates information (emails, YouTube videos, web searches etc), analyzes, tags, and sorts it into categories, and also uses social networking to collect information gathered by others in a user’s network. Based on research done in fields like natural-language processing and machine learning, Twine purports to be “one of the first mainstream applications of the Semantic Web.” An early tester of Twine recounts his experience here.

Nova Spivak, the CEO and founder of Radar Networks (makers of Twine) also mentions some other cool up-and-comings in the same space on his blog, like the “new semantic search engine” called True Knowledge. He says “True Knowledge is about making a better public knowledgebase on the Web — in a sense they are a better search engine combined with a better Wikipedia.”

Though the Semantic Web seems to be catching on rather slowly, I think it has huge potential. We will surely see more and more applications of the concept as people witness the advantages of leveraging technology that understands the meaning of the information it finds, collects, and shares for you. On the Semantic Web, shit has meaning.

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2 Responses to “The Semantic Web = Shit Has Meaning”


  1. 1 Jeremy Taylor November 9, 2007 at 11:48 am

    It’s like, they could do this, if they didn’t have all those brain dead developers cutting crappy java code. Do they think google writes their core architecture in java? What a nightmare for spivak.

  2. 2 Derek Prothro November 16, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Jeremy-
    Not quite sure what Java or C/C++ (what Google writes their architecture in) has to do with the semantic web. The idea is using meta data to describe a document and using data mining to link documents with similar meta data together. The underlying infrastructure doesn’t do anything accept host content. There’s tons of research in this field that’s been going on for decades, and ASAIK, its language independent. If anything, the bleeding edge research is using Java more than anything else.


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