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Friday, November 30, 2007

Semantic Web Applications - Mundane or Interesting

A recent post by Richard MacManus on
discusses several semantic web applications. Richard explains semantic web applications as:
A key element is that the apps below all try to determine the meaning of text and other data, and then create connections for users.
For example, ClearForest provides a Firefox extension called Gnosis. It is a bit of a dog, but it can "identify the people, companies, organizations, geographies and products on the page you are viewing." It recognizes Companies, Countries, Industry Terms, Organizations, People, Products and Technologies. Each word that Gnosis recognizes, gets colored according to the category. This technique is often called entity extraction.

What got me to post was that Stephen Downes tells us:
all this semantic goodness is now so common-place, it's impossible to see any distinguishing features...

None of it really speaks to me.
I'm somewhat in agreement that by themselves, many of these applications don't seem all that interesting. But, the title of the article was "to watch."

Take entity extraction as an example. When you combine that with relational navigation as is offered by Siderean, you get an interesting result. Go visit Environmental Health News. Do a search, such as for "cancer" and you get a page with a sidebar that looks like the one shown to the left.

It's really powerful to be able to see content organized in this fashion, especially with counts. It helps makes sense out of any body of information. Helps you navigate through it using a browse mode in combination with search. It's a very powerful tool in a lot of contexts.

The key ingredient though is having a means to extract the meaning out of the content.

This speaks to me.

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