I've been reading an article on MIT Technological Review about A Smarter Web: The Semantic Web, a new way of seeing the Internet as a database, a system that can answer questions, not just a pile of documents that might hold an answer.

Web 3.0 was defined by John Markoff, in an article in the New York Times last November, as a set of technologies that offer efficient new ways to help computers organize and draw conclusions from online data, and that definition has since dominated discussions at conferences, on blogs, and among entrepreneurs.

Web 1.0 refers to the first generation of the commercial Internet, dominated by content that was only marginally interactive. Web 2.0, characterized by features such as tagging, social networks, and user-­created taxonomies of content called "folksonomies," added a new layer of interactivity, represented by sites such as Flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us, Last.FM, and Wikipedia.

Web 3.0 builds on the concept of Semantic Web, an initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Under their definition the Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by W3C with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF).

The simple tagging used in Web 2.0 applications lets users spontaneously invent their own descriptions, which may or may not relate to anything else. antic Web systems require a more complicated infrastructure, in which developers order terms according to their conceptual relationships. Hand coding a database or website with metadata in the language of a schema can be a work in vain though.

The solution to this problem may simply be better tools for creating metadata, like the blog and social-networking sites that have made building personal websites easy. This is an opportunity that worths pursuing as a developer.

Links:
- A Smarter Web - Part I
- A Smarter Web - Part II

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