Tim Berners-Lee, so to say the founder of the World Wide Web and W3C head, suggested a new dimension of the Internet; Please note that the Internet and the WWW are not the same thing but often used equally and so do I. He expressed it by following words:
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. A 'Semantic Web', which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The 'intelligent agents' people have touted for ages will finally materialize. (Wikipedia)
This is, by the way, one topic of my, hopefully, new course of study - computational linguistics. The idea is to categorise and connect ideas in a way that a machine can understand and interact on a (semi-)natural with humans, e.g. via meta-information:
Non-semantic web (Web 1.0 and Web 2.0):
Semantic web (part of Web 3.0):
<.animal Kingdom="Animalia" Phylum="Chordata" Class="Mammalia" Order="Carnivora" Family="Felidae" Genus="Felis">Cat
This should create a Serendipity effect as many users already experience when they do 'wikihopping'. A very advanced usage would be that a user can now ask the web:
Person: "Oh, I have a lovely cat at home and could you please tell me the class of my cat?"
Semantic WWW: "Of course sir/madam. You're from Europe, Republic of Ireland so the most likely class would be Mammalia. May I show you some images for verification or do you want to know something more?"
Person: "When did the Berlin wall go down?"
Semantic WWW: "In 1989. Do you want some videos related to the event?"
Because search engines are dumb and can't understand meaning, you'll receive often inaccurate answers:
1. BBC ON THIS DAY | 9 | 1989: The night the Wall came down
2. When did the Berlin Wall go down? - Blurtit
3. Why did the berlin wall come down? - Yahoo! Answers (Google)
The idea of meta data is, infact, not new. Via HTML, especially Dublin Core, you can realise meta data (via
<.meta>) but almost nobody uses it because it is much more work to do and search engines do not use meta data to index websites anymore and many browsers don't care at all. This will also be one of the main problems for a global Semantic Web. Many coders/users just don't care about meta information. So you'll have to make them care with prescriptions or to make it interesting to use meta tags.