What is the Semantic Web?

The idea behind the semantic web is that although online data is available for searching, its meaning is not: computers are very good at returning keywords, but very bad at understanding the context in which keywords are used. A typical search on the term “turkey,” for instance, might return traditional recipes, information about the bird, and information about the country; the search engine can only pick out keywords, and cannot distinguish among different uses of the words. Similarly, although the information required to answer a question like “How many current world leaders are under the age of 60?” is readily available to a search engine, it is scattered among many different pages and sources. Semantic-aware applications infer the meaning, or semantics, of information on the Internet to make connections and provide answers that would otherwise entail a great deal of time and effort. New applications use the context of information as well as the content to make determinations about relationships between bits of data; examples like TripIt, SemaPlorer, and Xobni organize information about travel plans, places, or email contacts and display it in convenient formats based on semantic connections. Semantic searching is being applied for scientific inquiries, allowing researchers to find relevant information without having to deal with apparently similar, but irrelevant, information. For instance, Noesis, a new semantic web search engine developed at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is designed to filter out search hits that are off-topic. The search engine uses a discipline-specific semantic ontology to match search terms with relevant results, ensuring that a search on "tropical cyclones" will not turn up information on sports teams or roller coasters.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • As the amount of information continues to grow geometrically, tools and strategies that are able to deliver context-sensitive information will become more key for research and sense-making. As a small example, TweetBeat Firsthand is a web browser plugin that identifies names, companies, organizations in a web page, and embeds a widget that overlays that persons/organizations twitter stream as a resource http://www.kosmix.com/labs/firsthand/ This is part of a larger semantic system at kosmix that assembles bits of information about people/companies from elsewhere on the web http://www.kosmix.com/ - alan alan Aug 31, 2010
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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