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Tim Berners-Lee habla sobre la web semántica

febrero 28, 2008

En uno de mis podcast favoritos, Talking with Talis, acaba de aparecer una extensa entrevista sobre la web semántica a -nada más ni nada menos- que Tim Berners-Lee. Además del audio, también está disponible una versión escrita.

Como fino adelanto para que se animen y guarden la entrevista en su librería más cercana, me permito citar la pregunta que relaciona al software social con el desarrollo de la web semántica.

  • Do you think developers of applications like, say, Facebook and LinkedIn and the rest, are ready to embrace the Semantic Web, or do you think they think they can do it themselves?

“I think, there is two parts of that. There is whether they will need to give up the data, and whether they are willing to use the standards. You will find to start with a lot of places, like LiveJournal, for example, they expose FOAF. So standard RDF Friend of a Friend for your friend network.

If you look at MyOpera, not only do they expose a FOAF link but they allow you in your Opera profile to say, I am also this LiveJournal person. So, you can follow your links, you can follow the friend of a friend, the social network, through one site and into other.

I think, it is a very grown-up thing to realize that you are not the only social networking site. When you do that, it is like a website that all of a sudden… otherwise it is like a website which doesn’t have any links out. In the Semantic Web similarly, if you don’t have any links out, well, that’s boring.

In fact, a lot of the value of many websites is the links out.

So if you start off with one of these social networks that does have links out, then you will find out a huge amount. If you find one which doesn’t, then you will be able to explore it using common tools, if they use the FOAF standards, but I bet you’ll be limited; you will bump into the edges.

Now if you look at the social networking sites which, if you like, are traditional Web 2.0 social networking sites, they hoard this data. The business model appears to be, “We get the users to give us data and we reuse it to our benefit. We get the extra value.” When one person has typed in who it is that’s in a photo, then we can benefit. We give the other person extra benefit by being able to give them a list of photos that they are in. That’s tremendously beneficial.

That’s the power of the Semantic Web. And I think, the social networking sites, some of the ones that have become very popular have done it because captured the semantics. They haven’t just allowed you to tag something with somebody’s name, they’ve allowed you to capture the difference between somebody who took the photo and somebody who’s in the photo, so that the power of the reuse of the data has been much greater.

So, first of all, are they going to let people use the data? I think, the push now, as we’ve seen during the last year, has been unbearable pressure from users to say, “Look, I have told you who my friends are. You are the third site I’ve told who my friends are. Now, I’m going to a travel site and now I’m going to a photo site and now I’m going to a t-shirt site. Hello? You guys should all know who my friends are.” Or, “You should all know who my colleagues are. I shouldn’t have to tell you again.”

So, the users are saying, “Give me my data back. That’s my data.” That was one of the cries originally behind XML, it was a desktop application. Don’t store it in a format which I can’t reuse. So, now it’s, “Give it to me using the idea of standards. If you do that, then I can do things with it.”

Now, there are two architectures which allow you to do this. The way some of the sites are working is that you’ll go to, for example, a t-shirt site which is going to allow you to print a t-shirt or something. Or say you go to a photo site and say, “Now I want to see the photos of my friends. You don’t know who my friends are. I am going to authorize you in some way, using something like OpenAuth, to go to another site. I’ll open the gate with them, I’ll tell them that it’s OK to use the information about who my friends are.”

So, just for the purpose of printing those t-shirts or just for the purpose sharing these photographs with my friends, I’ll allow you to know who my friends are. So, we’re getting this moving of user data between different sites. Now, we’ve got the user data stored in more than one place. Obviously, refreshing is important and we’ve got dangers of inconsistency and so on, and we’ve got all this third-party authentication going on.

There’s another model, which is that I, the user, run an application in my browser, for example, or on my desktop. It could be an AJAX application. It could be an application which allows me to look at photos. But, what it does is, it pulls the photo information from many places, and I directly authenticate.

And when it pulls that information in, it pulls in all the information I rightfully have access to. It pulls my friends’ information as well from different places. So, if I’ve got social networks, or for that matter, if I’ve just got files in Web space. If I’ve got a friend-of-a-friend file, or even if I’ve got my local file on my desktop that now I can use. So, I can use my address book.

So, it now pulls all the information that I have access to about the social network, and it pulls all the information in that I have access to about photos, and then it allows me to browse the web of photographs of people using the full power of the integration of all those things. It allows me to look at photographs of friends, photographs of people that are friends of friends, but are not my friends, to see if I should be adopting them as friends and so on.

It can do all these powerful things, and it’s happening actually in the user’s browser, or it is happening on the user’s machine. Both of these systems at some point allow people sharing data. The second system is much simpler. The second system involves people writing scripts which will operate across different data sources.

Web 2.0 is a stovepipe system. It’s a set of stovepipes where each site has got its data and it’s not sharing it. What people are sometimes calling a Web 3.0 vision where you’ve got lots of different data out there on the Web and you’ve got lots of different applications, but they’re independent. A given application can use different data. An application can run on a desktop or in my browser, it’s my agent. It can access all the data, which I can use and everything’s much more seamless and much more powerful because you get this integration. The same application has access to data from all over the place. Does that make sense?”

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Foto con Creative Commons de hyoga.

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