The future of knowledge online: the semantic web
The Semantic Web is Tim Berners-Lee’s name for the version of the Web that links together ideas, concepts and facts instead of documents and pages.
It’s sometimes called Web 3.0, because it is thought of as a new kind of Web, in the same way that Web 2.0 was a move to user-contributed content and social networks.
The vision of the Semantic Web is that computers would be able to understand the things that are linked together on the Web, rather than needing human eyeballs to interpret them.
Facts about me as a person, my diary, choices of travel arrangements, a business destination and accommodation availability will all be accessible for my computer to “surf” and “understand”, instead of my computer presenting me with a sequence of web pages that I have to read and deal with.
Goodbye online travel brochure, hello personal assistant.
This vision is explained in an article that Tim Berners-Lee wrote for Scientific American magazine in 2001 (see below). It was published midway between the invention of the Web and now, so it doesn’t exactly count as futuristic but it hasn’t exactly happened yet either!
Read the article, and think about this vision.
Update 1st December 2015: since we last last checked, on the 17th November, the link that we were using to this article no longer exists. You can still access the original article via Scientific American but you will need to pay a small fee. We have also added a new link to an additional article ‘The Semantic Web Revisited’’, written by Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall and Tim Berners-Lee 5 years after the original article.
What sounds familiar? How much of it has been realised so far?
What genuine benefits would it offer to society?
Can you see disadvantages and problems that this new form of Web would bring?
© University of Southampton 2015