Sunday, July 08, 2007

imho Ocean Semantic..............


Recently, I came across the "2007 Semantic Web Challenge" at the O'Reilly XML Blog ( They're asking for "cool" applications of ontologies etc. to "illustrate to society what the Semantic Web can provide."

For a Semantic Web "killer app" that pretty much everybody understands intuitively, the judges of this contest should focus on semantic search. As noted earlier, semantic search already accounts for a large share of the commercial implementations of ontologies, RDF/OWL, text analytics, and so forth. It searches by concepts, not mere text strings, leveraging ontologies to speed searches, make them more accurate, and weed out spurious hits. It points to a future where Googling delivers you to the exact, correct, complete answer to your natural-language questions with each and every query. "I'm Feeling Lucky"? Hah, that's so Web 1.0!

To a great extent, search is the killer app for both the SOA Semantic Web (see previous paragraph, and post of June 6, 2007 in this thread) and the Social Semantic Web (see following paragraphs, and that same June 6 post).

As regards the Social Semantic Web, this term primarily refers to "social networking," "social bookmarking," and "folksonomy" initiatives such as, Digg, and Reddit. These and brethren/sustren "Web 2.0" phenomena are online communities within which users may collectively link, tag, classify, and comment on Web content originated elsewhere (however, usually without reference to W3C SOA Semantic Web specifications such as RDF/OWL etc). The key difference between the SOA Semantic Web and these Social Semantic Web efforts is that the former relies primarily on professional developers to create and maintain standards-based ontologies, whereas the latter relies on end users to create informal, non-standard collections of descriptive tags that apply to content they find while surfing the Web.

Fundamentally, though, the entire Social Semantic Web universe is a big, distributed, human-powered search engine. The core features of any search engine are to crawl, correlate, and rate content originated elsewhere. Traditional search engines do this with spiders, whereas Social Semantic Web communities accomplish the same end through surfers (or possibly, it's a "botts" vs. "butts" distinction, but I digress). Just as no single spider-powered engine can crawl everything in the universe all the time and place it all in every conceivable context for every potential searcher, no single "social bookmarking" community can be a be-all boddhisatva of semantic salvation.

Choose your ontological oracle, so you can search and surf the ocean semantic, always in clear sight of some comfortable contextual coastline.

One to come.