Clay Shirky
( Archive | Home )

Liz Lawley
( Archive | Home )

Ross Mayfield
( Archive | Home )

Sébastien Paquet
( Archive | Home )

David Weinberger
( Archive | Home )

danah boyd
( Archive | Home )

Guest Authors
Recent Comments

pet rescue saga cheats level 42 on My book. Let me show you it.

Affenspiele on My book. Let me show you it.

Affenspiele on My book. Let me Amazon show you it.

Donte on My book. Let me show you it.

telecharger subway surfers on My book. Let me show you it.

Ask Fm Anonymous Finder on My book. Let me show you it.

Site Search
Monthly Archives
RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline


« What Kind of Social Software Are You? | Main | Not just activist, not just participatory, but connected »

November 10, 2003

Semantic social software

Email This Entry

Posted by David Weinberger

The current set of discussions swirling around Clay's latest pebble in the pond I think raises a question for social software: Where does social software fit into the Semantic Web? Since there seems to be considerable disagreement about what the Semanatic Web (or, if you prefer, semantic web) is, this may seem like an ambiguous question. And how ironic that would be, since the Semantic Web (at least according to most accounts) begins by people coming up with taxonomies that make clear (searchable and usable) what a set of data is about. This works great for some fielded data...more or less by definition since the fields are the metadata. So, if you're trying to get a bus schedule that will get you to a movie theater on time for the early evening showing of The Matrix Redundant, it's easy to imagine a computing application looking up bus schedules on one site and movie times at another. But social software is, arguably, a reaction against the collaborative systems that fielded too much. Instead of filling in forms and choosing from pulldown menus, social software has us writing in wikis and blogs. What could be more ambiguous than a wiki, the very definition of a document that's never done? Of course, there's plenty of metadata around social software: author, date, revision history, category, title, mean time between posts, etc. And all of that is value just waiting to be put to use by clever applications. But the metadata about a bus schedule leads you to unambiguous and predictable data; the metadata around social software does not; it leads you to delightful surprises. So, what's the role of social software in the Semantic Web? Does it even show up on the Semantic Web's radar? Does the Semantic Web ignore the fruit of social software as unreliable and unpredictable and unusable data? In other words, does the Semantic Web systematically route around some of the most important and human information on the Net? David Weinberger

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: guests


1. kevin rogers on November 11, 2003 1:33 AM writes...

Perhaps, "…what is the role of semantic webs within social software?" is a more interesting question.

If one looks upon the semantic web as a Truth model, then it would seem to offer some great advantages in a relative context. Agreed upon "truths" among people make interactions and decision making much more efficient. As Ross pointed out a few days ago in Knows and Memes, adding tools for group forming could be an important step in empowering the rest of the bloggers. What better group forming tool than an explicitly enforced worldview {The Truth = The Semantic Web} for certain segments of the larger community.

Of course, as Clay points out, truth does not scale well and generally leads one to odd conclusions ( when taken as absolute. Better to stick to Beauty when things get big.

Permalink to Comment

2. Danny on November 12, 2003 3:51 AM writes...

Social software is very much on the radar of SW developers, although I think the approach to "Truth" may differ considerably from the way some see it. Dan Brickley made an important point in his response to Clay Shirky:

"RDF...allows for subtler treatments, which
is where FOAF [the friend-of-a-friend RDF project] is (hopefully) headed through its focus on describing the photos, events, collaborations etc that are the evidence friendship leaves in the world, rather than crudely taxonomising classes of friend."

The Semantic Web model also has a head start over many other approaches to group forming and so on, because of the way relationships can be joined up transparently. FOAF profiles, RSS 1.0 data and, RDF calendar data (e.g. Sherpa) can all be used together in the same tools for discovering and enhancing social relationships.

Permalink to Comment

3. Danny on November 12, 2003 3:52 AM writes...

Oops, the links got swallowed:

Permalink to Comment

4. Libby on November 16, 2003 6:18 PM writes...

FOAF (friend of a friend) data is currently one of the main sources of semantic web data. I'm perhaps biased but I think its also one of the most interesting sources of semantic web data so far, being widely distributed, and focusing on some of the tough challenges of trust and authorship that will become signifiant as more Semantic web information is created.

Permalink to Comment


TrackBack URL:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Semantic social software:


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Spolsky on Blog Comments: Scale matters
"The internet's output is data, but its product is freedom"
Andrew Keen: Rescuing 'Luddite' from the Luddites
knowledge access as a public good
viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
Gorman, redux: The Siren Song of the Internet
Mis-understanding Fred Wilson's 'Age and Entrepreneurship' argument
The Future Belongs to Those Who Take The Present For Granted: A return to Fred Wilson's "age question"