Friday, 19 October 2007

The makings of a big, smart ball of string

While I'm not a beta groupie by any means, I feel like I should be excited about the currently being hyped "semantic web" application called but I just can't. From the screen shots it looks a bit like another social bookmarking site, without the personality of Facebook.

Perhaps its because the exciting stuff is all behind the scenes? In an interview with Read/WriteWeb, they explain that will support:

  • Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language (SPARQL);
  • Web Ontology Language (OWL)*;
  • Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL), which is used for defining Extensible Markup Language (XML) document transformation and presentation; and
  • Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages (GRDDL) - this is apparently used for for getting RDF data out of XML and XHTML documents...

Hmm. Still not excited? Basically what all this means is that becomes an engine for linking together content and data in a meaningful way, leading eventually to the possibility of machine intelligence that users and other applications can tap into. In fact the more we put in, the better it will get. Now, isn't that exciting? Actually this reminds me that many people have had the idea of using Wikipedia as a source of machine intelligence, but something like should make it easier and better.

Tim O'Reilly provides more background information, but comments:

"I'm going to withhold judgment till I can get my hands on the service. Until the system is populated with a lot of data -- far more than shows up in the demos -- we won't know whether we've spun a smooth twine, or a gnarly knot. But I'll look forward to trying. I'm seeing a number of startups trying to work this same problem. None has yet gone live. But I'm confident that eventually someone will make some headway, and I'll be excited if twine gets there first."

UPDATE 2: Also worth reading is Nicholas Carr's review of and also Freebase (another semantic web "brain") from earlier in the year - CineSpin gives you an idea of how an application cap tap into semantic data . He also outlines's business model:

"Business model? It’s a work in progress. In the near term, expect the obligatory AdSense ads. Longer term, Spivack is counting on using the site’s insight into its users and their interests to develop a custom system for serving highly personalized ads and product recommendations. More interesting, Twine will offer a for-fee professional version (the basic version is free) aimed at business people and, in particular, teams of workers doing research or otherwise tracking and analyzing information. Spivack says he plans to allow outside services to tap into the Twine database through open APIs, although heavy users will likely have to pay for the privilege of incorporating the Twine brain into their own products."

*Of could this could also be Ordinary Wizarding Level, a test of magical aptitude in the Harry Potter novel series, which would be a lot more interesting to most of us.

UPDATE: BTW is another site that doesn't like IE6 - you don't even see all the content...

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