Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Bottom-up Semantic Web

January 31st, 2005 · 1 Comment

Kevin Werbach writes:

The latest and greatest example of the bottom-up semantic Web in action is tags. Tags are user-created labels for objects on the Web, such as pages and photos. Using a tool such as Del.icio.us (for bookmark links) or Flikr for photos, anyone can assign tags. Once objects are tagged, users can search on those tags and retrieve human-categorized results. Technorati recently introduced tag search across blog posts, del.icio.us bookmarks, and Flikr photos, with the ability to tag other types of objects as well.

What’s cool about this is that, in true Web spirit, it simply ignores the biggest problems with a decentralized system. I might think something belongs under a “politics” tag that you categorize differently. Or, different users will tag the same item in inconsistent ways. Not to mention that, to take a trivial example, “blogs,” “weblogs,” and “Web logs” might all refer to the same thing, but be treated as distinct tags. So what. Tags work well enough to be useful, despite not being perfect. Just like the Web vs. SGML, just like Ethernet vs. token ring networking, the lightweight, decentralized solution wins.

And it gets better.

The exciting part of tags is that they fit together with mechanisms to build open programmatic interfaces to Web resources. A tag category, for example, can easily become an RSS syndication feed. And more. Lots of smart people, and many startups, are coming up with intruiging applications of these new capabilities.

The semantic Web is dead. Long live the semantic web.

Tags: Software

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