Scobleizer's had a Semantic Web Epiphany but can't quite nail down what his discovered in laymans prose :-)

Well, I'll have a crack at helping him out i.e. defining the Semantic Data Web in simple terms with linked examples :-)

Tip: Watch the recent TimBL video interview re. the Semantic Data Web before, during, or after reading this post.

Here goes!

The popular Web is a "Web of Documents". The Semantic Data Web is a "Web of Data". Going down a level, the popular web connects documents across the web via hyperlinks. The Semantic Data Web connects data on the web via hyperlinks. Next level, hyperlinks on the popular web have no inherent meaning (lack context beyond: "there is another document"). Hyperlinks on the Semantic Data Web have inherent meaning (they possess context: "there is a Book" or "there is a Person" or "this is a piece of Music" etc..).

Very simple example:

Click the traditional web document URLs for Dan Connolly and Tim Berners-Lee. Then attempt to discern how they are connected. Of course you will see some obvious connections by reading the text, but you won't easily discern other data driven connections. Basically, this is no different to reading about either individual in a print journal, bar the ability to click on hyperlinks that open up other pages. The Data Extraction process remains labour intensive :-(

Repeat the exercise using the traditional web document URLs as Data Web URIs, this time around, paste the hyperlinks above into an RDF aware Browser (in this case the OpenLink RDF Browser). Note, we are making a subtle but critical change i.e. the URLs are now being used as Semantic Data Web URIs (a small-big-deal kind of thing).

If you're impatient or simply strapped for time (aren't we all these days), simply take a look at these links:

  1. Dan Connolly (DanC) RDF Browser Session permalink
  2. Tim Berners-Lee (TimBL) RDF Browser Session permalink
  3. TimBL and DanC combined RDF Browser Session permalink

Note: There are other RDF Browsers out there such as:

  1. Tabulator
  2. DISCO
  3. Objectviewer

All of these RDF Browsers (or User Agents) demonstrate the same core concepts in subtly different ways.

If I haven't lost you, proceed to a post I wrote a few weeks ago titled: Hello Data Web (Take 3 - Feel the "RDF" Force).

If you've made it this far, simply head over to DBpedia for a lot of fun :-)

Note Re. my demos: we make use of SVG in our RDF Browser which makes them incompatible with IE (6 or 7) and Safari. That said, Firefox (1.5+), Opera 9.x, WebKit (Open Source Safari), and Camino work fine.

Note to Scoble:

All the Blogs, Wikis, Shared Bookmarks, Image Galleries, Discussion Forums and the like are Semantic Web Data Spaces. The great thing about all of this is that through RSS 2.0's wild popularity, Blogosphere has done what I postulated about a while back: The Semantic Web would be self-annotating, and so it has come to be :-)

To prove the point above: paste your blog's URL into the OpenLink RDF Browser and see it morph into a Semantic Data Web URI (a pointer to Web Data that's you've created) once you click the "Query" button (click on the TimeLine tab for full effect). The same applies to, Flickr, Googlebase, and basically any REST style Web Service as per my RDF Middleware post.

Lazy Semantic Web Callout:

If you're a good animator (pro or hobbyist), please produce an animation of a document going through a shredder. The strips that emerge from the shredder represent the granular data that was once the whole document. The same thing is happening on the Web right now, we are putting photocopies of (X)HTML documents through the shredder (in a good way) en route to producing granular items of data that remain connected to the original copy while developing new and valuable connections to other items of Web Data.

That's it!