netwit 2.01

SEMANTIC WEB Google, Twitter and Facebook build the sematic web

Google, Twitter and Facebook build the semantic web

Jim Giles, New Scientist, 2 August 2010   [subscription only]

This is the introduction:

A TRULY meaningful way of interacting with the web may finally be here, and it is called the semantic web. The idea was proposed over a decade ago by Tim Berners-Lee, among others. Now a triumvirate of internet heavyweights – Google, Twitter and Facebook – are making it real.

The defining characteristic of the semantic web is that information should be stored in a machine-readable format. Crucially, that would allow computers to handle information in ways we would find more useful, because they would be processing the concepts within documents rather than just the documents themselves.

Imagine bookmarking a story about Barack Obama: your computer will store the URL, but it has no way of knowing whether the content relates to politics or, say, cookery. If, however, each web page were to be tagged with information about its content, we can ask the web questions and expect sensible answers.

It is a wildly attractive idea but there have been few practical examples. That’s about to change.

Google’s acquisition this month of Metaweb, a San Francisco-based semantic search company is a step in the right direction. Metaweb owns Freebase, which is an open-source database. Why would Google want Freebase? Partly because it contains information on more than 12 million web “entities”, from people to scientific theories. But mostly because of the way in which Freebase accumulates its knowledge – it is almost as if a person were doing it, making links between pieces of information in a way that makes sense to them.

Freebase entries, culled from sources such as Wikipedia, are tagged so that computers can understand what each is about and link them together. Freebase lists, for example, that one entry for “Chicago” is about a city and another describes the hit musical. Entries are also linked to other relevant entries, such as other towns or shows.


January 10, 2011 - Posted by | FaceBook, Google, Semantic Web, social media, social networks, social semantic web, Tim Burners-Lee, Twitter

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