Google Gets Semantic - InformationWeek
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7/22/2010
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Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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Google Gets Semantic

While most emerging technologies tend to happen quickly, one that has been "emerging" for a really long time is the Semantic Web. However, Google's recent acquisition of Metaweb may be the signal that the Semantic Web has finally arrived.

While most emerging technologies tend to happen quickly, one that has been "emerging" for a really long time is the Semantic Web. However, Google's recent acquisition of Metaweb may be the signal that the Semantic Web has finally arrived.For those who don't know what it is, the Semantic Web is the long held vision of web creator Tim Berners-Lee of a web that is "semantically aware", namely a web where applications and searches don't just know that there are words on a site, but know what the words and content on a site actually mean.

Berners-Lee first spoke about the Semantic Web in the late 1990's but the process of creating standards to enable the Semantic Web has taken a very long time. Now, most of the key standards such as RDF for tagging, OWL for setting ontologies and Sparql for handling queries, are now in place.

In recent years, Metaweb's Freebase has emerged as an example of the power of semantic technologies. Freebase creates structured data out of concepts from sites around the web, such as Wikipedia, and makes it very simple to query and use that data.

In spirit, Freebase is definitely a Semantic Web project, since it is concerned with the semantics of content on the web. However, it isn't a pure semantic web project, since, while it does use standards such as RDF and OWL, it does not natively use Sparql as a query engine. In comparison, the similar DBPedia project does use Sparql and most semantic web standards.

But outside of these issues, Metaweb's Freebase is definitely semantic, and the fact that Google has acquired the company could signal an increased focus on the Semantic Web within Google, something they have not always been that interested in.

If Google increases the profile of Freebase, and begins incorporating more semantic technologies within their other services, it could finally offer the deep deployment that has always been missing in order for the Semantic Web to take off.

To me this could be very big news. Because the Semantic Web could radically change how applications and users consume content on the Web and could lead to another big boost in innovative start-ups and applications that could boost businesses everywhere.

And I think that everyone gets the meaning of that.

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