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January 10, 2005

Semantic Web: Capitalising on richer Web data

Jeremy put me onto this:
IST Results - Capitalising on richer Web data:

A quiet revolution is coming our way. Recent successful trials of European semantic-Web applications suggest that machine-readable data will soon usher in an improved Web that will facilitate information reuse, and provide for painless building and maintenance of community portals.

Why is it that I don't like the symantic web initiative? I think it is for the same reason that I have problems with metadata projects. I *think* that perhaps I see them as an attempt to reinstitutionalize control over the presentation of data, and the creation of a cannonized subset of the information world that leaves the rest of us deutrocannonical at best, and apocryphal at worst.

Not everyone can get metaconceptual about the production of material, not everyone has the specialized knowledge needed to contextualize information into a symantic web context. So, the semantic web will create insiders and outsiders. It will server to effectively silence the average prosumer of information, and place the institutionally sanctioned knowledge on a higher plane. One may think that this is a good thing, mostly because institutionally created knowledge is better, more accurate and more truthful. If you think that, you should not be reading my blog. You should only be uncritically reading sanitized press reports from official channels.

Posted by jason at January 10, 2005 08:45 AM


I'm harsh, without a doubt. But to me there is a real attempt to recapture privilege and established authority by institutions going on here. This needs to be challenged, unless you believe that institutional authority is appropriate. I've spent too many years within the institutions to know that the pretensions to truth are too tenuous to be accepted, and that without the criticism that re-situating the dialogue within the flotsam and jetsam of 'just stuff out there' would force a level of critical reflection and dialogue that institutional information needs, IMHO.

Posted by: jason at January 17, 2005 08:06 PM

I think you're being a bit harsh here. The fact that information produced, reviewed or classified through official channels is often (though not always) "better, more accurate and more truthful" doesn't mean that other information is less valuable. It all depends on the kind of information best suited for a certain task. Sometimes a Google search with one keyword is enough, and sometimes searching a peer-reviewed journal is necessary. Sometimes you want the "official word" and guaranteed relevance, and sometimes you want the random, immediate, and human elements of the blogosphere. The strategies for dealing with each type of information are different, and no strategy need be "uncritical". Navigating this richness of information types is a skill that will only become more valuable as our experience gets more complex.

Posted by: Ben at January 17, 2005 07:26 PM

hey jason could u email me, concerning problems with my blog.. couldnt' find your email. sorry

Posted by: ryan mokund 2110 at January 10, 2005 05:28 PM