Doc Sheldon of Search Engine Watch reports, “Tim Berners-Lee first spoke of a Semantic Web at his address at the first World Wide Web Conference in 1994. Given the technical level of the audience, his presentation was, for the most part, met with excited nods. The Web Berners-Lee described was a far cry from the library-style repository of the Web at that time, but the concept wasn’t so far-fetched, at least to the listeners with a more visionary nature. ‘Semantic’, however, is a qualifier that means a great deal in this context. It demands that a machine, or more accurately, the software that drives that machine, must understand the information in the way it was intended. Let’s face it: most of us know a handful of human beings that are challenged in that regard.”

He goes on, “Indeed, for a machine to comprehend the meaning behind what a human has put to text, requires a certain amount of artificial intelligence. Humor, irony, and emotion certainly seemed to be beyond the conceivable limits of a computer program in 1994. Even in 2012, there are still some that doubt that such comprehension will be possible in the near future. Looking at the issue strictly from the standpoint of achieving a semantic search capability, it seemed that rather than trying to teach a computer how to think like a human, it would probably be much easier to teach humans how to present data in a format that a machine could understand. Take Muhammad to the mountain… Enter: semantic mark-up, such as RDFa, microformats, microdata, schema.org… structured data.”

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Image: Courtesy Flickr/ greeblie