Saturday, March 10, 2007

Megatriples are a thousand times better than "Web 3.0"

Mummy and daddy are fighting and I don't like it. Dave Winer thinks Freebase is just the latest half-baked idea but Rich Skrenta says holy smokes, this is cool. Crazy uncle Nick Carr thinks it's the first major Web 3.0 application.

My position is firmly on Dave's side. Like Dave, I think Freebase and Pipes are just overhyped clones of Google Base, and we all know how that turned out. It seems like Silicon Valley is striving ever harder to build the biggest, emptiest vessel ever. I have little time for empty vessel startups. Give me content, give me value that I don't have to contribute myself. Give me something to latch on to. It's no use banging on about how you're building the Semantic Web if all that you contribute are some architectural drawings, and you expect someone else to do the heavy lifting.

As Kingsley Idehen points out, a far better example of the Semantic Web is dbpedia, a rendering of Wikipedia as searchable, downloadable RDF files. dbpedia holds around 25 million RDF triples, where triple refers to a W3C-approved syntax for abstracts of RDF files. The Persons dataset alone weighs in at just under half a megatriple, and when combined with the 8 Mtriple Infoboxes dataset it will provide metadata for around 59,000 people stored on Wikipedia. That is the sort of thing that makes my mouth water, because it can be added so easily to Tinfinger's 350,000-strong person database.

And while we're mentioning Web 3.0, here's something that has bugged me for quite a while now. Many bloggers pilloried Tim O'Reilly for coining and then trying to cash in on the term Web 2.0, and there was a noticeable push about six months ago to deprecate use of the term by the Arringtons, McManuses and Cashmores of this world. Now the people who want to be hip and cool talk about Web 3.0, as if 2.0 is all done and dusted and it would be totally gauche not to listen to the new stars of 3.0. I call bullshit. No, Tim O'Reilly does not own Web 2.0 and has no right to restrict usage of the term, but by the same token no one has the right to say that Web 2.0 is now useless and obsolete either. Nick Carr and John Markoff are guilty of the same elitist claptrap as Tim O'Reilly, and the surest evidence of this is that they're all on the same hypewagon on this one.


Blogger Dorai said...

I have not looked much at Freebase but did look at Pipes. Not sure I understand the comparison to Google base. Pipes is an infrastructure for filtering and mixing data on the web. Google base is a web based database of user generated content.

May be I missed something there.

I agree with your post though. All these Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 is a bit funny and pretty much premature.

Thanks for the post. It is good to have some one doing critical thinking.

12:38 am, March 13, 2007  

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