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December 03, 2008

The semantic web is not research as usual

Frank van Harmelen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) did a nice lecture called "Where Does It Break? Or: Why the Semantic Web is Not Just 'Research as Usual'" - I think that there is a lot of confusion about what the semantic web is and how complicated the entire thing is.  One proof of that is people still referring to it as Web 3.0, which it isn't.  Here this rather clued up researcher tells us a bit more about it.

Lots of people talk about how the semantic web affects search engines, personalisation, data structures and so on.  This suggests that all the components are readily available, but this is not so.  It actually forces us to put into question technologies we already use.  His work is in "knowledge representation" and the semantic web has forced researchers to re-evaluate things.  He says that other fields are also seeing this.  

Some high level main points in brief:

  • Semantic web 1 is the web of data
  • Semantic web 2 is the web of "Enrichment of the current web"
  • Both use different techniques and target different users
  • Semantic web means better search and browse, better personalisation and interlinking, links being created on the fly with the profile of the visitor,... these are the technological aspects.
  • Decidability,  undecidability, complexity measures for example are the scientific aspects.
  • And context as always is an issue.
  • We need to combine logic and statistics, which are 2 different fields of computing really.  We need to talk to physicists, AI buffs, loads of people who don't necessarily feel involved right now.
For loads more please view the 58min lecture, which we are fortunate to have access to via  They have a huge collection of lectures not only about every research area in computing but also in other fields.

Warning: big equations :)

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Science for SEO by Marie-Claire Jenkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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