Slashdot pointed to a new Tim Berners-Lee interview about the Semantic Web. While on face value it’s YASWI by Sir Tim (Yet Another Semantic Web Interview), there are some great quotes in this one. e.g.
When asked if the Semantic Web is just a way to automate things that a human would do, Sir Tim replied:
“This is more like giving you a program which can do all the things which your MIS department could write programs to do but doesnít have time to. But it is still a program. Just as the World Wide Web is still a document.“
That’s an important point – just as Amazon can be said to be more a virtual agent than a website nowadays, the Semantic Web is a dynamic program not a static document. The generation of the Web we’re in now is almost a living one – it’s about movement and application of information. If not quite living, certainly information on the Web is much more social than it was 5 or 10 years ago. It’s being used by people to connect with each other on a grander scale than even Ted Nelson ever dreamed.
Sir Tim goes on to say:
“Bit by bit, link by link, the data becomes connected, interwoven. The exciting thing is serendipitous reuse of data: one person puts data up there for one thing, and another person uses it another way.”
Again, it’s the usage of information that is key to Sir Tim’s vision of the Semantic Web.
The next bit that caught my eye is something that will make Marc Canter fall off his chair with joy. Sir Tim mentioned FOAF as an example of a Semantic Web application:
“If you want to play with the Semantic Web, you can make a friend-of-a-friend file. In a FOAF file [the data component of a personal home page, formatted in a standardized way], you can publish stuff about yourself, your organization, your publication, places, or photographs.”
Sir Tim says that FOAF “shows the power of the reuse of information”.
And to wrap up, take this quote:
“The Semantic Web is just the application of weblike design to data; it will be many more decades before we will be able to say we have really implemented the Web idea in the full, if ever we can.”
That’s something my friends in the Web Design community will appreciate. Nowadays it’s not just about designing a beautiful website, it’s about designing for re-use of information. In a way, that’s what people are already doing with RSS – designing with data.