'Semantic web' could displace Google, says Berners-Lee

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London, Mar 13 : Google may soon be displaced from its position as the paramount brand on the internet by a 'mega-mash-up' company is able to harness the power of next-generation web technology known as the "semantic web," says the inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Google has been the most effective way of searching for pages on the internet, but now the "web of the future" would make it possible to link any kind of information, such as a photo or a bank statement, with any other.

Mr Berners-Lee said that similarly, the "current craze" for social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace would also be taken over by networks that can interconnect all types of things - not just people - thanks to the ground-breaking technology known as "semantic web".

The term semantic web is used by the computer and internet industry for referring to the next phase of the web's development, and basically involves building web-based connectivity into any piece of data, not just a web page, thus facilitating communication with other information.

However, on the other hand, the existing web is a collection of pages with links between them thus enabling Google and other search engines to help the user navigate. But the "semantic web" will facilitate direct connectivity between much more low-level pieces of information, like a written street address and a map, which may further give rise to new services.

"Using the semantic web, you can build applications that are much more powerful than anything on the regular web. Imagine if two completely separate things - your bank statements and your calendar - spoke the same language and could share information with one another. You could drag one on top of the other and a whole bunch of dots would appear showing you when you spent your money," The Times quoted Berners-Lee, as saying.

He added: "If you still weren't sure of where you were when you made a particular transaction, you could then drag your photo album on top of the calendar, and be reminded that you used your credit card at the same time you were taking pictures of your kids at a theme park. So you would know not to claim it as a tax deduction. It's about creating a seamless web of all the data in your life."

However, experts claim that there's a challenge in finding a way to represent all data so that when it is connected to the web, links to other relevant information can be recognised and established - a bit like the process known as "tagging".

"In the semantic web, it's like every piece of data is given a longitude and latitute on a map, and anyone can 'mash' them together and use them for different things. There are definitely better ways of managing that threat. I think we're soon going to see a new tipping point where different types of crimes become possible and lucrative, and it's something we constantly have to be aware of," said Berners-Lee.

He added: "One option is to build systems which more effectively track what information you've used to perform a particular task, and make sure people aren't using their authority to do things that they shouldn't be doing."

ANI

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