The jumbled mess that is the internet has a certain charm. Masses of confusing information and useless web pages sit neatly along side important sites, with Google standing as one of the only ways to tell them apart. Google is still the top dog in organizing the web, but the internet has evolved since the company began 12 years ago (that’s about 90 in web years). In fact, Tim Berners-Lee, who’s credited with inventing the World Wide Web, told the Times Online that he believes Google will be “superseded” by the Semantic Web.
Instead of simply focusing on web pages, the Semantic Web would, in theory, organize all kinds of information from bank statements to maps to photos to medical research studies. In a video for Technology Review, Berners-Lee talks about how Semantic Web technology could help doctors compare different kinds of medical data, combining the information with nutrition data or seemingly unrelated data like air travel patterns, illuminating trends and information that could literally save lives.
For now, much of the promise of the Semantic Web has yet to be realized, but companies are busy preparing to take advantage of the new technology. The latest incarnation is a website called Twine, created by Radar Networks, currently in private beta testing. CNet News reports that the company has raised $18 million in two stages to implement the technology.
Right now, Twine looks a lot like Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites. Users create a profile, upload a picture, and connect with other users on the site. The company hopes that users will soon begin dumping massive amounts of emails, research data, and other work-related information into the site, so that people will begin to make sense of the information in new ways.
The difference between Twine and MySpace, Facebook, or other social networking sites is that “a social network that is about who you know, Twine is more about what you know,” Radar Networks founder Nova Spivack told CNet News. If the Semantic Web works as well as Spivack and Berners-Lee hope it will, people will soon start to know a lot more.
Just for fun, here’s a very cool video about organizing the web: