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Mar 30, 2008

NEWS: Semantic Web Patterns

Intersection of AI (artificial intelligence) and content tagging to infer the next generation of intelligent services for Internet users.

Semantic Web Patterns: A Guide to Semantic Technologies
Written by Alex Iskold / March 25, 2008 

In this article, we'll analyze the trends and technologies that power the Semantic Web. We'll identify patterns that are beginning to emerge, classify the different trends, and peak into what the future holds.

In a recent interview Tim Berners-Lee pointed out that the infrastructure to power the Semantic Web is already here. ReadWriteWeb's founder, Richard MacManus, even picked it to be the number one trend in 2008. And rightly so. Not only are the bits of infrastructure now in place, but we are also seeing startups and larger corporations working hard to deliver end user value on top of this sophisticated set of technologies.


Now that we've blogged about our thematic investing approach at Foundry Group, we thought we'd spend some time explaining some of the themes we are excited about. Yesterday we wrote about our interest in next-generation human-computer-interaction applications and technologies, and today we are going to talk about another one of our active themes. 

One of the areas we are deeply interested in is what we (and many others) call the implicit web. While it may be imperfect as an umbrella term, it is easier for us to say (and still respect ourselves) than something like Web 3.0, which we sincerely hope does not ever enjoy the ubiquity (and subsequent meaninglessness) that the Web 2.0 moniker attained. 

Semantic Web - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible ...

W3C Semantic Web Activity

The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. ...

About microformats

Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging).

microformats diagram

microformats are:

We Now Support Microformats

Starting today, we’re happy to announce Yahoo! Local fully supports the hCalendar, hCard, and hReview microformats on almost all business listings, search results, events, and reviews. There are a few reasons behind this change, which for now, will be transparent to almost everyone.

In less-techy terms, “microformats” are an open standard for structuring web page content in a meaningful and reusable way. At Yahoo, we’ve been big microformat fans — Yahoo! Tech uses the hReview microformat for all product reviews, Flickr supports XFN and hCard on all profile pages, and our own Upcoming.org was the first big hCalendar supporter.

Yahoo Embraces The Semantic Web - Expect The Internet To Organize Itself In A Hurry

Michael Arrington


Yahoo’s embrace of all things open continues today - expect an announcement in an hour or so that they are expanding their Open Search Platform that we wrote about last month.

In that previous announcement, Yahoo talked about their plans to allow third parties to alter and enhance search results with structured data that may be useful to users. Today, they’ll give more details on the developer platform and will announce support for a number of semantic web standards.

What does all this mean? It means we can expect the web to get itself organized, in a hurry. At stake is a significant amount of traffic from Yahoo search, and anyone else that may choose to build applications on top of this data.

Yahoo’s support for semantic web standards like RDF and microformats is exactly the incentive websites need to adopt them. Instead of semantic silos scattered across the Web (thinkTwine), Yahoo will be pulling all the semantic information together when available, as a search engine should. Until now, there were few applications that demanded properly structured data from third parties. That changes today.

One example Yahoo director of product management Amit Kumar and others gave me during a briefing yesterday is LinkedIn - were they to mark up user profile pages with microformats, Yahoo search could understand the content and relationships between pieces of content. Yahoo can then present that data in an intelligent way in Yahoo search. “With a richer understanding of LinkedIn’s structured data included in our index, we will be able to present users with more compelling and useful search results for their site,” Yahoo says. Here’s how it will look in search results (see ourprevious post on Yahoo Open Search for how this is implemented):

Any third party can create mods for Yahoo search that leverage their semantic data (Yahoo will be launching a beta program in a few weeks, along with a developer launch party). Some lucky ones will be added by default to all searches.

A few details are being disclosed now, and Yahoo promises more in a few weeks. They are saying that they will support a number of microformats at the start: hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom and XFN. They will support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS, and others. They will support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. Finally, Yahoo will support the Amazon A9 OpenSearch specification with extensions for structured queries to deep web data.

Erick Schonfeld wrote a post in February urging Yahoo to open up search completely to compete with Google. Yahoo isn’t heading in that direction, yet. But they sure look like they might get there eventually.

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