Tim Berners-Lee Says the Time for the Semantic Web is Now

In an hour long interview posted today about the Semantic Web, W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee says all the pieces are in place to move full steam ahead and realize the potential of a world of structured, machine readable data. Available as a part of the Talking with Talis semantic web podcast series, the interview (listen here) is summarized on interviewer Paul Miller’s new ZDNet blog dedicated to the semantic web. A full transcript is available here.

It’s an important conversation and a good introduction to what the semantic web is. Also notable is the way that Berners-Lee sees Semantics and Data Portability as very related. Some highlights are excerpted below.

My standard explanation of the value of the Semantic Web is this:

Once our software is capable of deriving meaning from web pages it looks at for us, then there’s a whole lot of work that will already be done, allowing our human, creative minds to reach new heights.

In the interview with Miller, however, Berners-Lee emphasized that it’s not just about web pages. He told Miller that that the core pieces are in place today for developers to build robust Semantic Web applications;

“I think… we’ve got all the pieces to be able to go ahead and do pretty much everything… [Y]ou should be able to implement a huge amount of the dream, we should be able to get huge benefits from interoperability using what we’ve got. So, people are realizing it’s time to just go do it.”

On the topic of challenges still faced, Berners-Lee said:

“There’s an awful lot of data out there. And I think, one of the huge misunderstandings about the Semantic Web is, ‘oh, the Semantic Web is going to involve us all going to our HTML pages and marking them up to put semantics in them.’ Now, there’s an important thread there, but to my mind, it’s actually a very minor part of it. Because I’m not going to hold my breath while other people put semantics in by hand… So, where is the data going to come from? It’s already there. It’s in databases…”

Other topics of the interview include whether leading social networks are likely to implement semantic web technologies, how semweb engagement benefits companies and what users can do to move the technology forward.

We’ve cover the Semantic Web extensively here at RWW. See below for a list of posts on the topic.

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