David Kirkpatrick

February 6, 2009

Tim Berners-Lee on the semantic web

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 am

Very cool bit from Mark Frauenfelder at boing boing on the man who invented the World Wide Web and his latest project, the semantic web.

From the link:

Today, he has the same problem. People have a hard time understanding his new project, the Semantic Web. The Web was about putting your documents on Web. The Semantic Web is about putting your data on web.

From my Tech Review article about TBL:

TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: For several years, you’ve been promoting something you call the Semantic Web, but people don’t seem too excited. Why not?TIM BERNERS-LEE: It’s not the first time I’ve had this paradigm-shift problem. Early on, people really didn’t understand why the Web was interesting. They saw it in the smaller scale, and it’s not interesting in the smaller scale. Same thing with the Semantic Web.

TR: How do you get past that?

B-L: Right now we are just starting by putting applications onto the Semantic Web one by one and linking them up where it seems useful. But what’s exciting is the network effect. The vision is that we will get to a critical mass, where everything starts getting linked into an unimaginably large whole. Then, the incentive to add more to it rises exponentially as the value of what is out there also does.

Because few people initially get this great “aha!” of connecting to a huge mass of Semantic Web data, it all has to be done by people who are convinced — who understand that it’s worth putting the effort into getting the thing off the ground.

The technology is “linked data.” (Linked Data is a catchier term than Semantic Web. But is Linked Data part of the Semantic Web or the new name for the Semantic Web?) The cool thing about Linked Data is the relationships. He wrote an article called Linked Data a couple of years ago.

Why is linked data important? Curing cancer, understanding economy, global warming. A lot of the state of the knowledge of human race is stored in databases that are not shared — stored in “silos.” Now they are linking the data, bridging across different disciplines. “When you connect data together you get this huge power out of it.”

1 Comment »

  1. Hi David – good news is that more and more of us are indeed convinced that its worth putting the effort into getting the thing off the ground.

    Since we starting offering free semantic metadata extraction in Feb. ’08 at OpenCalais.com, more than 9,000 publishers, bloggers and developers have taken part.

    We are now doing the semantic plumbing – metatagging people, places, facts and events – for between 1 and 3 million documents each day.

    Importantly – as you note – this month we bridged the gap to the Linked Data cloud.

    We now return not just metadata to folks who process their content through Calais, but also a Calais URI and linked data endpoints to DBPedia, etc.

    Comment by Krista Thomas — February 6, 2009 @ 10:45 am


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