Friday Mar 09, 2007

Metaweb: a semantic wiki startup

O'Reilly groks the Semantic Web in the latest article "Freebase will prove addictive". From his article:

But hopefully, this narrative will give you a sense of what Metaweb is reaching for: a wikipedia like system for building the semantic web. But unlike the W3C approach to the semantic web, which starts with controlled ontologies, Metaweb adopts a folksonomy approach, in which people can add new categories (much like tags), in a messy sprawl of potentially overlapping assertions.

Now that's a very partial simplification. The Semantic Web has always been designed to be grown, though there has been a lot of misunderstanding on this issue as I reported in UFO's seen growing on the web.

The idea of using semantic wikis to grow ontologies is an excellent idea. Seed with a few tags, nourish with plain text, add a little structure with simple ontologies; water; repeat with a littel more complexity at each iteration. With love and attention and a few lullabies the Semantic Web will be born (see Search, tagging and wikis).

A little further he says:

Metaweb still has a long way to go, but it seems to me that they are pointing the way to a fascinating new chapter in the evolution of Web 2.0.

Soon O'Reilly is going to use the word Web 3.0, just you wait and see!

See also:

Monday Nov 06, 2006

Long term vision for the future of the world

Nova Spivack has just published a long but very well written and accessible paper in which he describes his long term vision of the evolution of the web and the world. Don't read it if you don't like science fiction, or if standing at great heights makes you dizzy.

Starting with a quick summary of the latest developments in web technology as they have started to become visible in what we are now calling Web 2.0, he draws a picture showing how the initial semantic stepping stones provided by services such as del.icio.us, flickr, digg, linkedin etc, are leading us towards a world in which the web will slowly gain in intelligence in little distributed pockets here and there, and then in more and more wide areas of the web, until linked up altogether we develop what could be called a global mind that has many similarities to Ken Wilber's and Jean Gebser integral stage of consciousness. Just as we are made up of cells - the same types of cells that could be found billions of years ago, but organized and coordinated to form an intelligent whole - so in the global mind we will be the cells and the semantically integrated web will be our neural network.

In The Meaning and future of the Semantic Web, Nova Spivack, who runs a Semantic Web startup company Radar Networks, and has a good history of being ahead of the curve (he started Earth Web, also known as Gamelan, a Yahoo for Java applets which gave my first java applet back in 1996 a little "cool" prize, when java had only just popped onto the landscape) gives a good long term vision for where to go. If you read that don't forget that a Journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet. It is good to know where you are going, but the length of the journey may be frightening to some. Don't try to want to be at the end of the journey allready. You'll be there soon enough, trust me, time passes very quickly. Enjoy ever second of it. That's what I do when I go on long bicycle rides. If you know where you are going, you'll have more time to admire the landscape around you.

It is worth comparing such a vision with the one painted by Douglas Adams in 1990, in A Hitch Hiker's Guide to cyberspace.

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