To Blog or Not to Blog: Semantic Web in the news
We are in the midst of widespread debate re. copyright law as applied to information networking via "wholesale media" businesses. Follow this debate with the founder of NowPublic.com here
On the question of legalities associated with "blogging" the news, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Father of the Internet) has all the data one needs to understand the evolution of the tecnology, and, he provides an excellent example of the art of blogging on his blog site.
In his second entry, he says this: "The less inviting side of sharing is losing some control. Indeed, at each layer --- Net, Web, or Graph --- we have ceded some control for greater benefits.
"People running Internet systems had to let their computer be used for forwarding other people's packets, and connecting new applications they had no control over. People making web sites sometimes tried to legally prevent others from linking into the site, as they wanted complete control of the user experience, and they would not link out as they did not want people to escape. Until after a few months they realized how the web works. And the re-use kicked in. And the payoff started blowing people's minds.
"Letting your data connect to other people's data is a bit about letting go in that sense. It is still not about giving to people data which they don't have a right to. It is about letting it be connected to data from peer sites. It is about letting it be joined to data from other applications.
"It is about getting excited about connections, rather than nervous." –
Submitted by timbl on Thu, 2008-03-27 16:43. :: Semantic Web Technologies
Well, the Semantic Web has been in the news a bit recently.
There was the buzz about Twine, a "Semantic Web company", getting another round of funding. Then, Yahoo announced that it will pick up Semantic Web information from the Web, and use it to enhance search. And now the Times online mis-states that I think "Google could be superseded". Sigh. In an otherwise useful discussion largely about what the Semantic Web is and how it will affect people, a misunderstanding which ended up being the title of the blog. In fact, the conversation as I recall started with a question whether, if search engines were the killer app for the familiar Web of documents, what will be the killer app for the Semantic Web.
Text search engines are of course good for searching the text in documents, but the Semantic Web isn't text documents, it is data. It isn't obvious what the killer apps will be - there are many contenders. We know that the sort of query you do on data is different: the SPARQL standard defines a query protocol which allows application builders to query remote data stores. So that is one sort of query on data which is different from text search.
One thing to always remember is that the Web of the future will have BOTH documents and data. The Semantic Web will not supersede the current Web. They will coexist. The techniques for searching and surfing the different aspects will be different but will connect. Text search engines don't have to go out of fashion.
The "Google will be superseded" headline is an unfortunate misunderstanding. I didn't say it. (We have, by the way, asked it to be fixed. One can, after all, update a blog to fix errors, and this should be appropriate. Ian Jacobs wrote an email, left voice mail, and tried to post a reply to the blog, but the reply did not appear on the blog - moderated out? So we tried.)
Now of course, as the name of The Times was once associated with a creditable and independent newspaper :-), the headline was picked up and elaborated on by various well-meaning bloggers. So the blogosphere, which one might hope to be the great safety net under the conventional press, in this case just amplified the error.
I note that here the blogosphere was misled by an online version of a conventional organ. There are many who worry about the inverse, that decent material from established sources will be drowned beneath a tide of low-quality information from less creditable sources.
The Media Standards Trust is a group which has been working with the Web Science Research Initiative (I'm a director of WSRI) to develop ways of encoding the standards of reporting a piece of information purports to meet: "This is an eye-witness report"; or "This photo has not been massaged apart from: cropping"; or "The author of the report has no commercial connection with any products described"; and so on. Like creative commons, which lets you mark your work with a licence, the project involves representing social dimensions of information. And it is another Semantic Web application.
Go direct to Sir Tim's blog for live links: