The Semantic Spider Web - Can It Be Done?
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Right now, when you look something up on a search engine, the results show web pages that display whatever keywords were in your query. But on the Semantic Web, the results fully describe your search query (e.g. if you look up a person, the results will display everything from a date of birth to occupation and home address).
The Semantic Web is based on the idea that people are connected to other people. Someone may want to set something up with a group of friends. That person's software agent, which is a piece of software that acts on behalf of a user or program, will be able to organize a list of potential invitees, set a date by coordinating with the other users' calenders, and schedule the event based on your preferences. This would help fully realize Berners-Lee's vision of a more universal Web.
Not everyone thinks this Utopian vision of the Web is feasible, though. They point to the fact that this "vision" would require every bit of online data to be marked with some XML-based tagging vocabulary, which would offer better search, discovery, and indexing of metadata. Needless to say, it looks as though this won't be happening for a while.
Another issue is that almost all headway is coming from academic research projects, where the end products are not development tools or application platforms to be used in enterprise IT organizations. The search oriented architecture (SOA) sector has been slow to embrace this movement even though the Semantic Web could revolutionize the way search engines operate. There are already tools for semantic interoperability in SOA and Berners-Lee's Semantic Web has yet to show any major advantage over them. And the fact that Microsoft hasn't shown their support to any significant extent means any major commercial adoption is still a ways off.
But Semantic Web advocates say they just need a little patience. They refer to what happened when the Internet first came out -- no one noticed the six to eight years of prior effort to get it launched. Those involved in the Semantic Web admit they are at least five years away from any significant shift. It's about bringing together what took over two decades to get us to this point.
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