Sunday, February 19, 2012

#LAK12 Semantic Web: Glimpses of Understanding

What I understand about the semantic web is that it:
-- relies on metadata that codes the metaphysical identity of a piece of data and how it relates to other things or concepts. Is it an image? a person? an idea? An author? This reminds me of bibliographic cataloging in libraries. ("The Semantic Web: An Introduction")
--exists on a very small scale currently ( Tim Berners-Lee's TED talk).
--would allow us to find and visualize relationships between any two bodies of information, whether the information is a person or an image or a body of raw data.
--would allow the implementation of learning analytics on a much more far-reaching scale.
This is what I understand and it isn't much, but what I don't understand is a lot. I really did not understand the "semantic web: an introduction" paper, nor the specifics of Hilary Mason's talk, but I found it fascinating none the less, and was particularly pleased that she used a disease-related example to illustrate Bayesian statistics. I made a connection from that to the concept of evidence-based medicine which I've also been learning about in the past couple of years.
Still need to watch Dragan Gasevic's presentation from last week. Perhaps it will make all things clear.


  1. Hi Nancy,
    I've just been reading this paper on the semantic web
    Gruber, T. (2008). Collective knowledge systems: where the social web meets the semantic web. Journal of Web Semantics, 6(1), 4-13.
    and I enjoyed the image it uses of the semantic web as 'snap to grid'. Just as the elements we add to a PowerPoint slide snap to grid (and sometimes it's really annoying that they do that) so do other things snap to grid on the semantic web. So we type in Paris - and the semantic web offers us Paris, France and Paris, Texas - or even Texas, Ohio. I found this an understandable read and a good way of understanding some of the key issues.

    1. Thanks for the reference, r3beccaf. I really want to understand this concept; perhaps it will help.

  2. Thanks Nancy and Rebecca - I'm going to persevere through the other week 4 readings. Just wish I hadn't read the semantic web paper first as it was a little discouraging, but you have both inspired me to keep going!

  3. I think the issue with semantic web is the same issue we've seen time and time again- folks are too busy generating the content, they don't generate the meta for the content. Unless it's highly automated, I suspect a great deal of "tagging" won't occur.

    Heck, to this day a great deal of webpages don't exploit the most simple of techniques for SEO and helping search engines discover them by adding simple keywords.

    Automated will probably be too shallow to be deeply meaningful.

    The other issue I see (a far second) is that any model for semantic web will have contexts and uses that will fail to encompass all perspectives. Once folks see a shortcoming, they abandon to a large degree.