So what is the big deal. Isn’t this semantic thing something the web standardsi have been touting for a while now. Does Yahoo finally joining in make any difference.
Well yes in a way it does, it means that Yahoo are taking the step in the correct use of semantically formated and organised information as a tool to understanding the context of the information that is being indexed.
This means that the search results will be in theory enhanced for those implementing for the semantic web. What is required now is Google to follow suit. If they do this will mean having a semantic valid site will be a distinct advantage. As expected this will bring a flurry of work for web standardsi.
What’s the Semantic Web
However the true semantic web doesn’t exist, yet.
It is the concept on a global scale that the entire web is readable by machines and that the information that has been read can be understood in the context of which it was read.
In a way it’s about publishing information on the web in a series of standard ways that allow anyone (including machines) to read and understand the information no matter what the format. Problem is with the web as it is at the moment is not achievable. As the information is hidden locked in the pages of the web with no allowance for any correlation at all.
One thing the semantic web is not is web 2.0 or even the mythical web 3.0 as Matthew Hodgson points out.
Web 2.0 is all about the people, communication, connection and interaction. The semantic web is about machines, communication and interaction with information in a open cloud of data with no forced interrelationships.
Now don’t think of the semantic web as a separate entity from the web as it’s not; its just an extension of the web. The addition of metadata to the existing web allows, via the use of RDF (Resource Description Frameworks) , to turn the data into structured information that can be machine understandable.
Is there any point to the Semantic Web
The really interesting thing with the semantic web is that in principle of data aggregation of the information. Take for example with a semantic aggregation service to should be possible to search for a local music festival, the predicted weather conditions, previous years reviews and pictures, without these information sources being interrelated directly. All this from looking up one event. This is achieved purely on the context of the machine readable information and the pattern information matching.
It gets better, want to look up all the reviews for the latest book you’re interested in, well via the collected semantic search results of microformats it’s possible to list all the reviews of the book extracted from their places on the web and even provide an average rating.
But remember just because the information is machine understandable this does not mean suddenly it allows for some meta artificial intelligence. All it infers is the ability to solve defined problems via defined operations. Still the machines have to told how to use the information. It just means that we can see what the information is like, in a similar way you can with a database.
So is the semantic web the future or is it still a pipe dream?