Guest Post: The Semantic Web is dead – long live the Semantic Web!

Contributed by Dirk Stähler, author of “Tracking Information on Today’s Internet”.

The Semantic Web, the World Wide Web Consortium’s 2001 proposal to standardize the web to a consistent and structured format, has failed to gain traction in any significant way more than ten years later. However, by empowering individuals with new tools to structure, process and create from niche web content, we can achieve the vision of the Semantic Web with a different approach.

The traditional Semantic Web has failed because of the complexity required to overhaul billions of web pages to comply with official machine readability standards. A top down solution cannot address all this complexity. Instead the Semantic Web will be built from the ground up by a decentralized group of individuals.

But does every individual need to become a developer to contribute to this solution? With the arrival of easy to use mass-market tools, the emerging answer is no.

Empowered individuals can collect, combine, filter, analyze, automate and distribute content to create their own services when the pre-existing Internet does not provide an adequate solution.

Companies like kimono offer these tools and establish infrastructure services for the collection, processing, analysis and distribution of content on the Internet. Any developer – or, in more general terms, every Internet power user – can transform ideas into reality together with the services provided. The “How to hack Burning Man with APIs and text messages” solution is a perfect example of a developer leveraging kimono to make his clever idea a reality.

The power users – everyone who wants to gain more value from Internet data – will not run out of ideas any time soon. And, when there is real value provided by these services, others would be willing to pay for them. If someone comes up with a clever mash up that sends me an alert whenever something I care about happens on the Internet, why wouldn’t I pay a few bucks for it? The automatic delivery of travel coupons via a combination of kimono and IFTTT services already saved me more than $400 in hotel fees in 2014.

This will create a whole new ecosystem of individual solutions to manage our daily digital life, similar to the introduction of App-Stores a few years ago. At that time, a market was created through the combination of smartphones and tablets with a new class of software that did not exist before. Why shouldn’t something similar succeed a second time with the combination of generic services and “individual content based solutions”?

The post is based on the book “Tracking Information on Today’s Internet”
by Dirk Stähler (Author) and Fred Waskiewicz (Editor). The book explains how tools like kimono are building the “individual Semantic Web”, what kind of obstacles we have to deal with on the way and where this development will lead us in the near future