Is Twitter the Semantic Web?

Saw a blog post from Alan Cann over at the University of Leicester this evening which got me thinking. His post was entitled 'Twitter drives traffic to blogs and social networks', and in it he claims that Twitter is the semantic web. He has a great poem on his site called 'The Semantic Web will not be Televised' which expresses this idea perfectly.

Although the Semantic Web (Web 3.0?) is still somewhat ill-defined and there are disagreements over exactly what it is, or what it looks like, most people agree that elements of it at least, have been with us for some time. The key presumed attributes of the semantic web are its psuedo-intelligent predictive and filtering capabilities:

Back in 1999 Sir Tim Berners-Lee declared: "I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers."

This is a grand architectural design of course, most of which is not completely accessible to the average computer user. What we do understand however, is that 'intelligent agents' in software will enable computers to filter out what we don't want and push to us what we do want, based on our previous use of search engines, network transactions, etc.

In this context, Alan Cann is probably correct because Twitter can act as a network filter - still under the control of the user, with little intelligence built into it other than the choices of the user - but never-the-less possessing a form of filtering capability beyond that of the average user. We are still some way off from truly intelligent agents that predict accurately what you want, when you want it, delivered to your current location. But Twitter is much more than the glorified e-mail system many claim it to be. Twitter is certainly a huge step toward semantic predictive filtering - it allows you to lock directly into and maintain your own personalised community of interest, where you can follow or un-follow who you wish, communicate across boundaries and push/pull information as you require it. It employes a number of simple and abbreviated filtering features such as #hashtagging, @names, RT (Retweeting) and DM (Direct messaging) which many social networking tools do not have. It is only a small step from here to automated versions.

Image source


AJC said…
Just to point out that the post on my posterous site was from elsewhere, I just added the observation about the semantic web.
Hi Steve - Twitter is also driving entertainment - listen to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's film reviews, 606 on five live they are all at it -
madalien said…
a personal learning network, when chosen, refined and shaped, can be very effective. whether we can imbue "intelligent agents" with the same is something I feel we are a long way short of.

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