Semantic Web evolved

Creating a sun the hard way.

In 1989 the internet was invented by Tim Berners-Lee. He created it as a place for data, information and knowledge exchange.

The main method was hypertext. This is not text that stands on itself but links to many other texts containing its context. All links together define a web of information. The connections lifts the separate text to form a more holistic whole: A web of knowledge that transcends the information.

Semantic Web

But an internet that only consists of text is only easily readable by people. People have to follow the links and scavenge the text for information. For computers it is not as easy. For this mr Berners-Lee came with a vision of a Semantic Web.

“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web: the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A Semantic Web, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The intelligent agents people have touted for ages will finally materialize.”

He described it as a system in which all words are provided with meaning: semantics. So computers can easily read what the letters/words are and find out what it all means. This so computers can scavenge text easier to find new meanings, to find new connections, to find new links.

But where is it? A nice dream which is still not here… Why not? Because it is too difficult to create…. Why write a text and provide all kinds of words with subtext? Why create separate layers of text for people and computers? Why lock it in into the same limitations as human text: linearity…

Linearity makes a text a one dimensional string. By scanning the text string you can with Berner-Lees invention of hypertext choose a new path defined by the creator of the previous string. We are still locked into the document, the path delved out by the writer… It is an evolutionary step but not the endgoal for a true knowledge web.

Semantic Web evolved

To really set free a semantic web it should be free of the limitations of words. Maybe a node inside such web can link to a word, and the connections between nodes can be translated with grammar rules to text, so the knowledge can be formed on the spot in the form which is needed.

Our brain works the same. We don’t save knowledge in our heads in strings of words. We don’t walk the whole textual story of acquiring the knowledge to get to the element we seek. We create and follow direct connections to it. And by following the connections from that connection we create context, story. A story that is right for the moment.

The internet should be the same: free of text but full of links to create a real boom of knowledge.

Image by Robert Hodgin, visit his webpage flight 404 for more supergreat work! 🙂