What’s this Semantic Web and why should I care…


The ‘semantic web‘ (also cited as web of the future) is about publishing knowledge on the web that is meaningful to humans, but at the same time can be easily processed by computers. Currently we have a web of documents, which can be easily understood by humans, but that is difficult for computers to process.

The semantic web will add a layer of data to the web using a data encoding format called RDF, or ‘Resource Description Framework‘. This will help computers make better sense of our queries and return more qualified results.

Today, Driving past Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, I cannot use a mobile phone client to find all restaurants within 3 KM that also serve ‘lassi’ on the menu at lunch, or to list all the prices for TVs in all shops within 2.5 KM, or to list all shops on Road No. 2 with a sale on …

W3C has published a few use cases which explain how tasks like co-ordinating a meeting, aggregating reviews, searching for information etc; will be more efficient with deployment of the semantic web.

The killer App

The big question is what would be the killer app utilizing semantic technologies, as Alex Iskold analyzes in his post Semantic Web: What Is The Killer App?, there won’t be one single killer app. Richard MacManus lists out 10 Semantic Apps to Watch.

How will semantic web affect the web/mobile widgets?

The real benefits of semantic web are in the backend of managing data on the web rather than any front-end consumer semantic web apps. The real effect for mobile devices may be the systems that can interpret natural language requests for searches and use context such as location to imply meaning.

With the exception of location awareness, a mobile semantic web client will be no different than a desktop semantic web client in the way that it uses semantic web data.

What value does it bring to you

Alex Iskold summarizes it very well:

  • Spend less time searching
  • Spend less time looking at things that do not matter
  • Spend less time explaining what we want to computers

Further readings:
Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee Talks with Talis about the Semantic Web
The Semantic Web: Scientific American

About Sachendra Yadav

Mobilist and Social Media enthusiast
This entry was posted in Mobile, Web and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What’s this Semantic Web and why should I care…

  1. Joe Moraca says:

    Good analysis. I like the “use cases” you cite.

  2. ankur says:

    I like your passion and it was good learning about the semantic web, i read the post about top 10 applications and i see that semantic web still has a long way to go, there are some bottlenecks, or rather walls that it needs to blast before making a decent and long lasting impact on the web. I would like to see your views on what semantic apps is lacking, what is needed to be done more.

  3. sachendra says:

    @ankur: What is lacking is semantic annotation of the information sources, i.e. a formal and explicit representation of their semantics, as well as a supportive environment for realizing semantic discovery and retrieval. What we need to do is:
    1. Create web services that are semantically described
    2. Create development tools that can hide the complexity of and automate the creation of the necessary semantic mark-up.

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