In Week 9, our attention turned towards the future of digital information and more specifically towards the Semantic Web or ‘Web 3.0.’ This vision of the way in which information should be made both human and machine readable, first appeared a lot longer ago than I could have guessed – with Wikipedia dating the beginning of the movement sometime back in the 1960’s. Considering the pace at which technology has advanced and how the exchange of information has progressed with the birth of the internet and the World Wide Web, it seems a little surprisingly that this idea has not made a lot more ground.
The main feature of this Semantic Web is that the relationships between different bits of information are recorded as bits of information themselves, thus making them ‘understandable’ to the machine. This would enable information retrieval to be far more accurate. Instead of searching key terms and filtering through the search results of those terms in very different contexts, you would be able to search for the relationships between the search terms and the search engine would be able to ‘understand’ what that means and begin the filter those results which don’t meet the specific context searched for. This shift towards a semantically organised Web, would obviously need to involve using mark-up languages in a different way and we began to try to understand how this vision of the Web may be possible.
As part of the lab session we explored a website called Artists Books Online, “an online repository of facsimiles, metadata and criticism.”
This site adopts a DTD (document type definition) which acts as a template to ensure that the correct information for each artefact is present. This largely follows a format which reflects traditional bibliography, requiring information which describes the books, it’s author, publisher, place of publication etc. This style lends itself quite nicely for us to be able to begin to visualise how the Semantic Web might work, by looking at the given information for a chosen item and seeing what tags could be added to the data in the site to make the relationships between the information more machine understandable. As Ernesto (via Joanna Drucker) details in our lab notes,
“Linked Data” or “data linkage” on the Web is mainly achieved through a standard known as the Resource Description Framework or RDF…There are a number of different technical ways to express RDF (for example XML), but the basic concept is that things are described through “triples” which take the form of Subject – Predicate – Object sentences.”
Using the information from this site, we were able to create our own ‘triples,’ e.g.
Subject “Monuments to the Industrial Revolution”
Predicate was authored by
Object Charles Agel