The Semantic Web #LAK12


Yikes! Just opened up Sean Palmer’s paper from week 4 of the #LAK12 mooc and almost backed straight out again! I tried really hard to read the paper, but really it’s written in fairly heavy technical speak, even if there is an admirable attempt to define key terms and give examples for illustration purposes.

What it did tell me is that it’s apparently no easy task to get everything that we publish on the web into a common language and format that can be easily standardised to enable optimal sharing. After that, it all got kinda heavy and I skimmed through the rest pretending that I was reading and nodding in a knowledgeable way to myself.

The author does talk at about the 2/3 mark about ‘a movement to bring the power of the Semantic Web to the people’. I can only outwardly applaud that sentiment and hope that the power also includes an ability to develop multilingual skills.

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About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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4 Responses to The Semantic Web #LAK12

  1. Nancy says:

    Sharon, I tried to read the paper too and much as I wanted to, I could understand very little of it! It reminded me of library cataloging principles, though. I would love to hear an explanation of the paper in plain English!

  2. sharonslade says:

    thank goodness it wasn’t just me! I gave up trying to understand it after a while and was just thankful to reach the end… hope the rest of the mooc is less technical 😮

  3. David Glow says:

    Not just you ladies. After I read it (and I am a “techy/geeky” guy), I felt like I had eaten a box of crayons.

    I think there are better, much less technical perspectives on this, but I think the start- and it’s a rough estimation- is that it is very akin to keywords that help folks discover webpages. This metadata isn’t content of the page, but describes it. Now blow that out among several axis points to describe all the digital assets that could be used in different contexts (including the contexts to which the asset might apply), and we’d be in the realm of describing semantic web.

    Mentioned on Nancy’s blog- I think the issue is that folks are so busy just getting the actual asset/content produced, that they don’t spend the extra time to wrap it in semantic descriptors. Also, the consumers of the content don’t either (think of what it takes just to consume the content of the MOOC, but to also actively participate in tagging and contextualizing?…) Most folks consume content for interests or to problem solve, not to index, nor are many training in any form of indexing schema.

    I love the idea, but I see a few habits being broken and formed to allow it to really happen (perhaps what Tim was speaking about in the TED Talk, but a plea to do something isn’t guidance to actually performing it).

    Oh, and there is the whole “if you can even describe it so folks could understand it, maybe folks would want to learn how to participate” first step.

    • sharonslade says:

      Hi David – so a shift in multiple mindsets needed…. quite a lot to ask, I guess. I’m not quite completely wallowing in despair – generally I have faith that things will either figure themselves out (when a group of people are determined enough to get a resolution) or something else will come along to replace whatever was causing so much frustration. This side of the web isn’t one that grabs me, although I do realise its importance, of course – just hope that someone else has the passion and drive to see it through. Best wishes, Sharon

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