You're Talking a Lot, But You're Not Saying Anything


How does commentary affect the world around us?

Linked Data, Not Linked People?

In an interview with ReadWriteWeb (part two here), Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the internet!) discusses the semantic web, data mapping, and linking data points. This technology is definitely an important first step in making use of the immense, even overwhelming, amount of information and ideas that I’ve already mentioned on this blog. But it is not the end point. No matter how impressive the technology, its results still need to be processable and usable by humans. The interview also touches on government data and the importance of accessibility of data–in any format. On that note, Berners-Lee comments on the importance of the search engines’ adoption of RDFa, which he sees as a very positive development that may be key in increasing information accessibility.

Berners-Lee also recognizes the need for different ways to access data: “…there are lots of different ways that people need to be able to look at data. You need to be able to browse through it piece by piece, exploring the world of data. You need to be able to look for patterns of particular things that have happened.” The semantic web is not just about providing one way to access data, it’s about providing the best tools to find and analyze data. Berners-Lee makes an important point about the difference between generic and specific data interfaces. A generic interface is necessary for finding the right type of information; a specific interface is needed in order to properly analyze a specific type of data (books vs. chromosomes, for example).

Could comments count as data? Currently, comments sometimes return in search results, and you can even subscribe to comment feeds by RSS, but comments are not necessarily something that you can search specifically as a type of data. I know that I’ve sometimes read insightful comments that I would like to be able to find later, but I’m more easily able to access the comments through searches for the material of the original article. What if we could more easily find out what others thought–not necessarily product reviews (which are pretty easy to locate), but actual ideas? Could, someday, data automatically “comment” on other data, contextualizing and expanding on its significance? Or will data be able to “query itself” and find associated data, which its own information can then comment on? It may be a way off, but it may also be the future.


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