Let's do a demo of the Semantic Web, the real one, the one that exists today. Doc Searls has a question about the iQue 3600 hand-held GPS. It is sexy. They say it only works with Windows, but Doc thinks it probably works with Linux too. A couple of thousand really smart people will read this. I'm sure one of them knows the answer. Probably more than one. There's the query. Human intelligence is so under-rated by computer researchers, but when we do our job well, that's what we facilitate. Human minds communicating with other human minds. What could be easier to understand?

Well, I certainly wouldn't call this the Semantic Web-- more like the Whuffie Web. See, if we were all A-List bloggers, with our own constellations of readers willing to pitch in to answer a question, we could all make queries like the above. A-List bloggers have the big Whuffie. Most everyone else has much less Whuffie, thus their query powers are much less. I somehow doubt that the Whuffie Web, if it were to take off in a big way, would work to equal benefit for everyone. A cousin, the Lazyweb, sometime serves its petitioners well, but it's a fickle and unpredictable thing indeed. Sometimes you get magic, sometimes you get shrugs. This also links into the Whuffie Web, in that Lazyweb contributors will be more likely to service a request if it comes from a Big Time Blogger. It's all about the Whuffie exchange.

On the other hand, if this Semantic Web thing were to take off, it'd benefit anyone who could lay hands on the connectivity to acquire the data, and the CPU power to churn through it. The data itself could come from anyone with the connectivity to provide the data, and the brain power to create and assemble it from information and knowledge. No underestimation of human intelligence here. If anything, it's an attempt to better respect the exercise human intelligence, to conserve it, and make it more available. Were the Semantic Web to take off in a big and easy to use way, people could spend more time creating answers and less time answering questions, since the machines do the job of fielding the questions themselves.

Of course... without the Whuffie, where's the motivation to provide the data?


Archived Comments

  • Yeah, my first thought was "so why can't he use a newsgroup like everyone else" :-) Or post (or search) in the various palm forums that are already rich in relevant and even organized content - after all, a forum is like a web log except it's about something interesting rather than someone and it always allows replies unlike scripting or searls. (Just think what a difference it would have made if two-way communication were considered inherent to blogs...)
  • But mostly, you just get shrugs.
  • So you ask your favorite source of whuffie to help you out.
  • Some good thoughts, well articulated, and I thought about blogging it but I'm still burned out on the semantic web issue. Besides, others older and better (ha!) have spoken well. But I did have to note that I love the sound of 'whuffie web'. I don't want to be weblogger, I want to be a 'whuffie webber'.
  • I think people without Wuffie still go to USENET ... and USENET is still willing to answer a lot of questions. (the first comment got the answer, right off)