Looks like the Semantic Web will be going primetime very soon. Google has announced they will be rolling out their next gen search features, many will be using semantic features captured via Microformats.
During the Searchology event at Google’s Mountain View headquarters, Marrissa Mayer and her team showcased four new products that she said would give users a “different way to look at the web”.
Rich Snippets are search results that return more information in every listing.
For example, users looking for reviews of a new restaurant might get a “rich snippet” of average review scores, number of reviews and the restaurant’s price range.
“This is a step toward making the whole internet smarter,” said Google product manager Kavi Goel.
Rich snippets use the metadata from web pages, such as address information, calendar information and semantic web mark-up specifications, called Resource Description Frameworks.
The use of these so-called microformats allows the search engine to better understand the meaning of data and to employ it more intelligently.
Google can understand the relationship between different sets of data, and so can pull the correct address listing of a shop without that information having to be specifically tied together.
This is something Yahoo! has been doing for quite some time and now it looks like Google is on board. If there was ever a time to incorporate semantic data into your websites/applications now is it or else you may just be pushed down the Google result ladder.
Great TED talk by Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web. His next project is working on the open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words.
Not only should we share our data, but we should demand that governments and businesses share the data they prepare as well, he says. Accessible raw data is his new objective for the world wide web. As he points out, “data drives a huge amount of what happens in our lives… because somebody takes the data and does something with it.” To Berners-Lee, it is essentially from this sharing of data, that advances in science will emerge.
If Google is finally starting to incorporate Semantic data in their results this would rock for Open Education (and everything else). Yahoo! has been doing it for a while I am sure Google is experimenting heavily. According to RW the searches are looking very “semantic” . This would be great for “Open Courses” using blogs and wikis as a platform. There are many WordPress features(themes and built in functions) and Mediawiki extensions that are using Microformats now. This would make search results much more useful if Open Course Developers started using just a few features of Microformats such as the geo , hcard and rel-tag features. A search for “geography Canada” for example could razor in on a Geography Course developed in Canada vs a geography course on Canada, a big difference in search results. Tools like FreeLearning would be greatly improved.
On a related note after I implemented my contact info using the hCard format on this blog I noticed the query for “Scott McMillan UBC” blows past the former UBC directory search result so maybe they are using semantic data…
Read Write has a great post on the Top 10 Semantic Web products of 2008. Working with a Bioinformatics research group for many years this was a hot topic way before 2008 but it seems to be gaining “mainstream” attention. I could see this making a huge impact with the Open Course Content intiatives.
From the list the ones that interest me the most are the Yahoo!’s open developer platform for search called SearchMonkey and the Open Calais project. Search Monkey has a great set of tools and tutorials describing how to structure your data will be better if Google ever does this… The Open Calais project also has a great tools section including a plugin for WordPress called “Tagaroo“.
Tagaroo is designed to make your WordPress blog better for you, better for your readers and more accessible to search engines. As you’re writing, Tagaroo analyzes the text in your post and suggests intelligent tags for the things and events you’re writing about.
This plugin really appeals to me because it would gently force/suggest users to tag their content in a certain way. The integration with Flickr’s CC content is also great finding images for posts a little easier for people. I can imagine extending this to other content like Wikipedia, PubMed, Delicious etc.
Web 3.0 will be a very interesting time for web development.