Semantic Web seen as a distruptive technology

August 1st, 2010

Washington Technology, which describes itself as “the online authority for government contractors and partners”), has an article by Carlos A. Soto on 5 technologies that will change the market. They are:

  1. Mobile
  2. Search and the Semantic Web
  3. Search and the Semantic Web
  4. Virtualization and cloud computing
  5. Virtualization and cloud computing

These are reasonable choices, thought I’ve have not done the double counting and added “machine learning applied to the massive amounts of Web data now available” and “social computing”.

But it’s gratifying to see the Semantic Web in the list. Here’s some of what he he has to say about search and the Semantic Web.

The relationship between search technology and the Semantic Web is a perfect illustration of how a small sustaining technology, such as a basic search feature on an operating system, will eventually be eaten up by a larger disruptive technology, such as the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web has the potential of acting like a red giant star by expanding at exponential rates, swallowing whole planets of existing technology in the process.

The technology started as a simple group of secure, trusted, linked data stores. Now Semantic Web technologies enable people to create data stores on the Web and then build vocabularies or write rules for handling the data. Because all the data by definition is trusted, security is often less of a problem.

The task of turning the World Wide Web into a giant dynamic database is causing a shift among traditional search engines because products such as Apture, by Apture Inc. of San Francisco, Calif., let content publishers include pop-up definitions, images or data whenever a user scrolls over a word on a Web site. The ability to categorize content in this manner could have significant implications not only for Web searches but also for corporate intranets and your desktop PC.

These types of products will continue to expand, initially in the publishing industry and then to most industries on the Web in the next two to three years.

For example, human resources sites could use them to pop up a picture and a résumé blip when a recruiter drags a mouse over an applicant’s name. Medical and financial sites such as the National Institutes of Health could use it to break down jargon and help with site exploration.

Government sites around the world, such as Zaragoza, Spain, and medical facilities, such as the Cleveland Medical Clinic, are using the vocabulary features of the Semantic Web to create search engines that reach across complex jargon and tech silos to offer a high degree of automation, full integration with external systems and various terminologies, in addition to the ability to accurately answer users’ queries.

(h/t @FrankVanHarmele)