My first experiences with Twine

Today finally I logged in to Twine the first time. I was reading yesterday about some shortcomings of the system, so I was keen on trying out the system by myself to get my own impression.

It´s true that the system isn´t as easy to understand as or other bookmarking tools. It takes a while until you get used to all those additional ways you can navigate through the system. Remember: “Twine looks at content and parses it automatically for the names of people, places, organizations and other subject tags. Users are then able to navigate between related content, view recommended content and connect with recommended people with related interests.” – But the “shortcoming” mentioned by Marshall Kirkpatrick that “… it’s hard to keep track of all the levels and types of information available” I can´t agree with: This has only to do with a general problem, which arises whenever semantic technologies should enhance the user experience. Either you stay with “simple” user-interfaces like Google or or you spend 5 minutes or so to learn a new piece of software which will help you to save time in the future and which helps you to find related information automatically.
On the other hand I was very surprised, that the automatic recommendations Twine makes on how to annotate or describe a new resource is really unsatisfying. Users will only spend time to tag their bookmarks if the machine comes up with some intelligent suggestions. And it´s true, as Marshall says, “most of the web is made up of ugly, non-standard pages.”

So hopefully Twine will add that feature before it will open up to the public (isn´t there a plan to integrate OpenCalais or something similar?), otherwise there will be no “first mainstream semantic web application” but only another prototype of a yet another semweb-app.

The “career” of a website can be strange sometimes…

When I first stumbled upon “StumbleUpon” about two years ago or so, I was fascinated by the idea of this application using “collaborative filtering” – the wisdom of the crowd. But after a while more and more friends were using, which wasn´t that brilliant at all to my opinion but simply more often used. Most of all I am missing a function which helps you to identify new interesting websites by simply clicking on one button. Moreover delicious doesn´t help to identify “Friends with same interests” like for example Facebook offers with music taste etc.

Now, a year after had its tremendous boom StumbleUpon seems to catch up.

Sometimes websites have strange “careers”: it´s a bit the word of mouth, a bit – of course – media which helps to boost websites, and finally with a little help from one of the big Web 2.0 companies (in this case Ebay´s US$75Mio.) you can do it!

Zimbra is the Collaboration Suite for the Social Semantic Web

We´ve been using Zimbra since a couple of months now, and I think it´s a fantastic opportunity for each small or medium enterprise, especially when virtual teamwork becomes more and more important (like in my working environment), to make a step towards Web 2.0. Besides typical features a collaboration suite usually offers, Zimbra comes with a couple of concepts which have the potential for a “Next Generation Collaboration” (collaborate or collapse):

  • Zimbra comes with a powerful search engine based on Lucene
  • Zimbra has an integrated tagging-system
  • Zimbra´s spam filter learns from each user in the system, if an email is spam or not – a very good example for an application of collective intelligence
  • Zimbra´s Zimlets support meshups and with that mechanism any message content can be made “live” by linking it with other services and content (eg. if in a textpassage the word “today” appears it will automatically be linked with your calendar entries from “today”)

And: Zimbra can be synchronised with your PDA… 😉

Yahoo Researcher Declares Semantic Web Dead – and reborn again…

When Mor Naaman from Yahoo said in a special track on Web 3.0 at WWW2007 that the “Semantic Web” is dead, he obviously tried to attract attention. Nevertheless, in my opinion he is absolutely right – there is no chance to “teach” people to annotate web content in a more sophisticated way than “social tagging” (and I´m pretty sure that also in the future it will always be a small community which will tag their content).

But in one point Mor Naaman missed the point: The “Semantic Web” was always there, under-cover more or less. Living in a tin with a lousy HTML-lid. And inside the tin there has always been enough semantics. There is no need to re-invent the data models, the namespaces, the ontologies (at least for most of the basic “things”) as Naaman proposes in his talk (slide 13). How easily all the existing semantics can be released and mapped against the “Semantic Web” (and suddenly it was born again 😉 ) is demonstrated by projects like [1] or [2].