Semantic Web – Total Recall

More and more information about the “semantic web” is circulating in the news and in the blogosphere. Especially in february and march a lot of new semantic applications were featured, so it was the first time I´ve got lost a bit when I was scanning (and sometimes reading) all those new posts everyday.

So I went back to Alex Iskold´s great summary on ongoing developements in the semantic web community: “Semantic Web Patterns“.

If you´ve been abroad for the first quarter of 2008 or you just had something to do which was more important than watching the web evolving then go there – and you´ll get the best wrap up for the first three months of 2008.

Alex covers all the highlights there except Zemanta – which brings me to Semantic Web Pattern No. 8:: Smart Assistants for the Desktop (Your desktop might be build on SaaS and mashups in the near future…). Semantic Technologies will help people to forget about things which aren´t important anymore and will help to recall the right information in the right moment.

Digital natives are here…

When Nova Spivack says: “It’s the wisdom of crowds and the wisdoms of computers working together” it sounds a bit like a romantic imagination of a young man or – more likely – it sounds like the next new marketing slogan.

Crowds can´t be wise at all. It´s always a single human being who is (or can be) wise. It´s rather a matter of HOW people organise themselves. The use of web technologies to improve communication isn´t really new but, it´s the kind of mass collaboration which is new and it´s based on the way the internet is perceived by digital natives.

The only bottleneck on the way to Web 3.0 are human beings (not technology) and their tendency to reflect on their mindsets only from time to time. And it´s a matter of fact that people rather spend a lot of time with thinking about strategies to gain personal advantages than with strategy building for better ways to communicate. With digital natives it´s a bit different: They were socialised within networks, so they have already learned that cooperation also improves the personal situation.

So it´s rather like the “blindness of crowds”: When will all the digital immigrants finally learn, that they must co-operate in many cases, since it´s the only way out? And there is another principle natives are already aware of: “It´s always very dangerous to listen for the gurus…”

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].