Web 3.0 (The Semantic Web) Goes Main Stream

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Web 3.0: Sir Tim Dreams Up A “New” Internet

Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web is the dream of Sir Tim Berners-Lee and in a nut shell it is his vision of freedom from the mundane chores of “hunting and gathering” in the information age. Just like his original vision for the World Wide Web that started out as an exchange of ideas between scientists across the globe with the first Internet called ARPANET, the Semantic Web will be the realization of the Intelligent Agent on a grand scale of information acquisition and publishing at the global community level. As Sir Tim puts it (with a bit less eloquence than the noble language of Martin Luther King Jr.):

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.(1)

What if you could query data from across the entire Web as if a giant database? (2) Well, according to MIT’s Technology Review and a company called Radar Networks it may be here.(3)

The Semantic Web Finally Goes Mainstream

Radar Networks has produced a new application called Twine *that actually gathers and organizes your tsunammi of eInformation using the principles of the Semantic Web according to the WC3 guidelines. But how does the Semantic web really work in the first place?

Suppose you wanted to organize and retrieve all the information about the Star Wars universe. First, you would need a classification tool to define terms from broader to narrower. Then you would need to organize those objects into an ontology (a way of defining programmable objects as classes and relationships). How Stuff Works capsulizes the schema and ontology specifics of the Semantic Web this way:

“In the Semantic Web, this comes from schemata and ontologies. These are two related tools for helping a computer understand human vocabulary. An ontology is simply a vocabulary that describes objects and how the relate to one another. A schema is a method for organizing information. As with RDF tags, access to schemata and ontologies are included in documents as metadata, and a document’s creator must declare which ontologies are referenced at the beginning of the document. Schema and ontology tools used on the Semantic Web include:

  • RDF Vocabulary Description Language schema (RDFS) – RDFS adds classes, subclasses and properties to resources, creating a basic language framework. For example, the resource Dagobah is a subclass of the class planet. A property of Dagobah could be swampy.
  • Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) – SKOS classifies resources in terms of broader or narrower, allows designation of preferred and alternate labels and can let people quickly port thesauri and glossaries to the Web. For example, in a Star Wars glossary, a narrower term for Sith Lord could be Darth Sidious and a broader term could be villain. Similarly, alternate labels for Han Solo might be nerf herder and laser brain.
  • Web Ontology Language (OWL) – OWL, the most complex layer, formalizes ontologies, describes relationships between classes and uses logic to make deductions. It can also construct new classes based on existing information. OWL is available in three levels of complexity — Lite, Description Language (DL) and Full.” (4)


What Twine Does For Your Flood of Information

Twine is a website where you can store all your information that’s important (or at least what you consider important) using strings of e-mails to YouTube videos. Those “strings” are considered “Objects” now within the Semantic web framework as defined by our OWL and SKOS and RDF tools above.(Regarding data strings on the web: Most of you are familiar with URL’s:the web site addresses you go to. They are a “type” of URI, which are the core method of addressing information on the web. URI’s, of the kind WindowsLive ID uses (in Trackback URI’s), identify data on a web site rather than the web site itself. It’s identified by a unique string of data. That unique string is what allows data to be accessed from anywhere on the Web) The Star Wars Framework Hierarchy to the right, can give you a better idea on how this all works.

Besides alowing a user to manually configure what information gets collected, Twine can also automatically collect all the Web pages a user visits, e-mails they have sent and received, etc. Then Twine can analyze this user-specific information and “…automatically sort it into categories that include the people involved, concepts discussed, and places, organizations, and companies.” Pretty nice when you consider what we all face everyday in just email intake alone! emoticon


* Twine is presently only available in Beta by invitation. If you would like to test Twine yourself, please send me an email through Epsilen Mail, QuickNotes or melanies.reed@gmail.com


©NanoWeek, M.S.Reed 2008

(1) Quote, Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_Web

(2) This is the Way We Spin the World Wide Web: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0: Let’s Buy, Let’s Share, Let’s Dream, NanoWeek, M. S. Reed, Aug, 13, 2007

(3) The Semantic Web Goes Mainstream, Technology Review, Ot. 29, 2007

(4) How Stuff Works: How the Semantic Web Works