So you aren’t quite sure yet what Web 2.0 is all about?
Well, hang onto your hat, as Web 3.0 is slowly galloping to meet us.
This is long, but worth reading (even if I say so myself!), and the Invitation is right at the end – OK?
A bit of history
Web 3.0, a phrase coined by John Markoff of the New York Times in 2006, refers to a third generation of Internet-based services that collectively comprise what might be called ‘the intelligent Web’, and the end of 2006 was the first time that Web 3.0 was associated with the Semantic Web.
Now what the heck is the Semantic Web? It is “an evolving extention of the Internet in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content”.
It derives from the 3WC director Sir Tim Berners-Lee‘s vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information and knowledge exchange.
Did I lose you yet?
How about an example (from Markoff, no less)?
the Holy Grail for developers of the semantic Web is to build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question like: ‘I’m looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of $3,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child.‘
Under today’s system, such a query can lead to hours of sifting — through lists of flights, hotel, car rentals — and the options are often at odds with one another.
Under Web 3.0, the same search would ideally call up a complete vacation package that was planned as meticulously as if it had been assembled by a human travel agent.
The day after Markoff’s article was published, it was torn to pieces by Thomas Claburn in The InformationWeek.
That was in 2006.
Where is the Semantic Web in 2009?
Last night I braved the Jerusalem cold (and a horrible head-cold), and armed with a large packet of tissues I attended the Jerusalem Web Professionals (JWP) monthly meeting, entitled “Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web: What You Need to Know“.
The presenters were Eitan Burcat and Mike Darnell, together with Eran Lahav, from SemantiNet, an Israeli start-up who have developed a Web 3.0 Firefox add-on (so far that’s all they support, but are working on support for other platforms) they call “headup+ your web, connected”
Their tagline is: “FIND without searching, BOOST your browser, CONNECT your web”
Eitan did the presenting, Mike did the demo (see below), and all three answered loads of questions.
The presentation started off with a few slides on the history of Web 3.0, an explanation of the terminology involved, and his example, which is probably more useful in today’s day and age than the dreams of Sir Tim.
I arrive in a new city, and I’m looking for a place to stay, somewhere to eat, and something fun to do. On my facebook profile, I wrote that I like Madonna, on some other social networking site I mentioned that my mother cooks great Italian food, and I’m registered at a dating site where I’ve tagged my lifestyle. My handheld GPS knows where I am, and can tell me which hotels suiting my lifestyle are in the area, where the best (i.e. with the most recommendations on a local restaurant website) Italian restaurant is nearby, and that there’s a Madonna concert the day after I arrive.
Today I need to go onto the web and look, instead of some cool technology (aka Headup!) offering it to me.
Headup only uses information freely available on the web, and keeps away from any password-protected stuff and privacy issues. Eitan explained that the connections between the pieces of information are made in realtime, on your PC client. He explained how Headup is different from Google Universal Search (basically, headup goes into social media sites, and all sorts of other places, to find semantically related information).
What was particularly cool about the presentation was that they actually have a working addon, that you can download and add to your FireFox (rather difficult not to see this
There were loads of questions from the audience, like:
- How do you deal with spam?
- What about adult content?
- How are going to make money?
- How many users do you have? (Answer: “more than a few and less than many” !!)
- What’s the connection with LSI (latent semantic indexing)?
- Why did you just do an add-on?
- Who has funded you up to now? (Sir Arnold Cohen, Jeff Pulver, Giza, and others I didn’t catch)
- What about Hebrew support? (Answer: it’s already there – have a look at the cool example at the end of this post)
and others, which I’ll leave to the headup blog to answer (unless they beg me to write up all my notes!)
The most interesting question, of course, was “how does web 3.0 and the semantic web affect SEO?”
Excellent question – the one we all want answered. But there aren’t too many answers around at the moment. Rather, more questions. Like “how are computers going to be able to understand the possible contexts that a human being understands?”.
It seems obvious that objects (people, things, stuff) will need to be tagged in many different ways, for example “Pink” – the singer or the colour? Using the W3C standards, microformats and the like, will help. But in reality, no-one really knows ….
So, of course, first thing I did when I went home was to install the little Mr. Man superscript (those are a couple of things that it’s supposed to remind you of ….), and lo and behold, it actually works !!
Here are a couple of screen shots (sorry about the quality – it’s a wordpress crunching thing).
The first shows that when you “headup” the word עזה (“Azza” – the Hebrew name for Gaza), it even shows you English news items with the word “Gaza” – very impressive.
In the second screenshot I set it up to include my facebook and other friends, and here you can see (just) that it’s picked up one of my friends, “Miriam”, from FriendFeed.
So, that’s Headup.
Now where’s the invitation to Test?
Well, it’s simple.
Mozilla’s policy is that all new add-ons added to their site are considered experimental until they are reviewed. The top-of-the-crop, those add-ons found to be ready and appropriate for public display, are made public. Experimental addons can be downloaded for testing and reviewing by users who are registered to Mozilla’s site.
So, the Headup team need YOUR positive reviews and ratings!
These ratings will factor in the Mozilla team’s decision to approve headup as a “public” add-on.
How about trying headup on this blog post? See how much information you can find on Eitan, Mike and Eran (I specially didn’t link their names to anything …)?
That’s it for now. Thanks for sticking around till the end of this post, and see you next time (if you sign up for my RSS feed, of course!)