Bless you Kate Ray. Having felt pretty despondent about my ability to understand the tangled mess that is (apparently) the semantic web, she hits us with this great little video clip that makes it much clearer. The problem is that there’s just too much data out there already for any human to possibly be able to aggregate.
The clips are really insightful and the quotes serve to underline the main points – ‘We are always going to be filtering the filters that filter our filters’. We are almost drowning in data and finding it increasingly impossible to manage and process what is most relevant to us at any one point in time.
But wait – there is the tantalising potential of a saviour in the form of the semantic web which is perhaps not simply a set of incomprehensible and seemingly random code, but a way of formalising and sense making, ‘making it easier to find stuff, because we have an understanding and an index of what’s out there’. The suggestion is that semantics can help in creating meaningful links and relationships between items – and with enough links we can build context which then provides the meaning.
There are those who suggest that the concept of a workable semantic web is utopian at best. For this to really work, we’d need there to be a single ‘right’ way of categorising the world. Maybe it’s enough to create some commonly shared structure and see how things evolve. What was clear is that none of those interviewed could really predict how the web would develop over the next few years. So for now, we continue to make fairly random choices about our information gathering and hope that our own version of the world is the right one.