Blog » Post

Stepping around the semantics web

Off and on, I've been writing something of a webmasters guide to creating a semantic web(site). It's taken a few forms: for a short time, it was brief enough to be a blog post, then it seemed like it might work as a magazine article, and now I feel some concern that it might be growing into a full-blown, standalone website. So, I might try to break a few pieces off and post them here, and see if that makes the topic more manageable.

One of tricky issues is that the term "semantic web" (and other uses of the word "semantic" in relationship to the web) gets used to describe significantly different things by different groups of people.

I won't get into my analysis of this here, but I just was thinking about how there is a whole exotic flora of misunderstandings between the different ideas of semantics on the web. And, these all came out of the pandora's box opened when Tim Berners-Lee called the thing the "Semantic Web" in the first place. In retrospect, it seems that maybe a less exotic name, like the "web of data," would have been a better choice.

Of course, Tim Berners-Lee continues to be a leading edge thinker about the web. And so, it's not surprising to find that he has excellent hindsight on the "semantic web" name:

I don't think it's a very good name but we're stuck with it now. The word semantics is used by different groups to mean different things. But now people understand that the Semantic Web is the Data Web. I think we could have called it the Data Web. It would have been simpler.

That quote comes from a recent Q & A with Tim Berners-Lee that is part of the new Business Week offering, CEO Technology Guide: The Web of the Future, which has several interesting articles on the semantic web.

My own interest in this subject has a lot to do with its relationship to the usability of web content. Pretty much everything I've seen about the semantic web is coming from the point of view of technologists. And, I think there are some other things to say from the point of view of the author / editor who publishes web content.

More often than not, the contents of our web pages contain "data," e.g., discreet and regularly structured information. For example, the date that appears at the top of this blog entry, while part of its contents, is also data.

So, I have more writings on this subject specifically in a "content wranglers guide to creating a web(site) of data," that is a part of the bigger potential article / website I've been working on. And, I hope to whittle it down to a nice blog entry that I can post here sooner than later.

Blog Archives

Next post: A great video on RSS

Prev post: Making podcasts more web-like