Home London Mashup: What’s Next, Web 3.0?

London Mashup: What’s Next, Web 3.0?

Written by David Lenehan of Polldaddy
and edited by Richard MacManus. David also covered the Future of Web Apps event [1, 2] in
London this week. Photos from
, via Flickr.

I went down to the Mashup event in London tonight, which was
organized by Vecosys and eTribes. The topic of conversation for the night was:
“What’s next, Web3.0? – The coming semantic web”. The panel consisted of Paul Walsh from
Segala, Mark Birbeck from X-Port Ltd, Tony Fish, and Sam Sethi – who took the role of chair
for the night. Sam started by talking about where the semantic web movement was at the
moment and the emergence of Microformats. He showed us some
examples of sites that are using formats like HCard and HCalendar. For those of you who
are not familiar with Microfomats, a good example is a site called worldcupkickoff.com. They used the HCalender
format to help users bookmark the dates of games in the World Cup, in their own
calendar applications. Microformats are only supported in the browser at the moment
through the use of third party browser plugins, but it seems almost certain at this stage
that Firefox 3 is going to support them natively.


Mark Birbeck was first up and talked about his own products XPort and SideWinder. SideWinder is a
platform that allows you to use web-based technologies such as JavaScript etc. on the
desktop. You can put web applications in a wrapper and run them on the desktop. I’m not
sure I really see the value of this product, but I don’t think that he had enough time to
explain its merits. Xport is a XForms
processor… I wont go into XForms, but it’s a technology that I’m watching closely, as
it affects some of the things I work on myself.

Content Labels Format

Paul Walsh was on next, pushing the Content Labels format. His
ideas generated most of the conversation for the night. Content Labels allow
you to describe content on your website. You link to a Content Label in the HTML of your
web pages, which is an RDF file that describes the content of your page. This is meta
data and it serves a very similar purpose to the HTML meta tags of old. The difference
with Content Labels is that you can have them certified. 

So the idea is that lets say you have a website that talks a lot about football,
has no adult content, is child safe and is in French. You can then create a Content
Label describing all of these features, then you submit it to be certified. A third party
authority will come along for a very small fee and make sure your content label is
accurate, in relation to your site’s content. The clear advantage of this is
that, if it is widely adopted, we will for the first time have meta data relating to web
content that is verified and can be trusted to a certain extent. Search
engines can then use this to help rank sites, browsers can show only child-safe websites
to children, french sites to french speaking people and so on and so forth. I talked with
Paul about Content Labels for a long time after the show and I realize I have not
mentioned a lot of the other possible uses and functionality of Content Labels, but I’m
still trying to fully understand it myself.

Paul Walsh at Etribes Mashup; Photo by Route79

As with microformats, at the moment content labels are only visible by way of a
third party browser plugin for FireFox, called Search Thresher. There are no plans
to implement this into any major browser releases in the near future, but people are
taking note of this technology. The W3C are about to accept it as a standard and
Microsoft has shown an interest in a plugin for IE. 

There were a lot of questions from the audience and a lot of people didn’t feel that
Microformats and Content Labels had anything to do with the semantic web. One interesting
point that was raised is that these technologies only help make content on the web
machine readable, but they don’t make it machine understandable – which is what
web semantics is all about. But in my opinion, the semantic web is a long way off yet and
we can’t make content machine understandable without first making it machine readable.
It’s going to be a long road, but I think these technologies are important stepping
stones along the way – albeit very early ones. I like Content Labels and I hope to
implement them on my own site.


Tony Fish talked last and, as far as I could tell, he disagreed with the importance of
the semantic web. However I didn’t understand what his points were, as his talk seemed a
bit obscure.

I really enjoyed this mashup event, because instead of the speakers dictating to a
mostly silent audience, the speakers were pretty much under the spotlight of the
audience’s scrutiny. Sam and Mike told me afterwards that a video of the event will be up
on YouTube soon. If you’re in London or near a Mashup again, go along – it’s a very good

Ed: Thanks again to David for covering the Web events in London this week.
I’ve certainly enjoyed reading David’s reports and so I’d like to ‘open the floor’ for
other guest bloggers to do this – i.e. provide reports of web conferences and events,
from anywhere in the world. Please email me on [email protected] if you’d like to help
keep R/WW readers informed of web events.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.