From: Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout@ku...> - 2009-06-13 14:23:06
"Almost lost in May’s whirlwind launches of Wolfram|Alpha and Microsoft’s
Bing and the unveiling of Google Wave, was a quieter announcement that may
bring a seismic shift toward the realization of Web 3.0. While some aspects
of the next generation of the Web are taking place, there are major physical
and cultural challenges to bring it about. Google’s launch of Rich Snippets
may well be a watershed moment in resolving these problems. ...
This may resonate with some in the Semantic Web community; a number have
seen the task of retrofitting the current Web into machine-friendly markup
so daunting that the global database might need to be built from scratch.
But on face value, Wolfram|Alpha violates one of the cardinal precepts of
the Semantic Web: that the proprietary hoarding of databases behind walls
must end — data must flow freely from and to all sources.
And the vision of W3C’s Semantic Web isn’t to replace the current Web, but
to enhance it. The question is how to get the work done. There was no
organized plan to build the Web. To be sure, there were plans to create the
technology and the infrastructure. But most of those tens of billions of
indexed Web pages were built by corporations, small businesses, non-profits
and individuals, each for their own reasons. Persuading websites to recode
Web pages to Semantic Web specifications — or even to do so going forward —
will take a powerful motivator.
Google breaks the ice
Google may have provided such a motivator with its May 12 announcement of
Rich Snippets. “Snippet” is the name Google uses for the short block of text
appearing below a search result, giving more information about the Web page.
Google announced in its Webmasters Central Blog (a bookmark for anyone
interested in making his or her website more visible to the leading search
engine) that it is now applying Google’s algorithms to “highlight structured
data embedded in web pages.” Translation, content marked for the Semantic
Web. The “rich snippets” will be based on the structured data."