For about two years or so a lot of people working in digital media have been banging on about the ‘semantic web’ and how that this evolution in the connection of information on the internet will change how we use the web. But it really has only been in the last six months or so that I have started to notice a lot of new web sites appearing using semantic tools.
First of all lets look at the definition of the semantic web. Here is a basic definition from wikipedia. Semantic Web is a term coined by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) director Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It describes methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning – or “semantics” – of information on the World Wide Web. So what does that mean in real terms?
Lets take a look at the new recipe search site Yummly. There are two angles to explore. The first is the search box which delivers context or meaning in the question. Instead of searching for “Thai Curry Chicken” and getting loads of results you can now ask a more specific question. How about “Thai curry chicken that is not spicy” the semantic engine can determine the differences in the data. Of course the data needs to be there in the first place which brings me to the other half of the site. After you log in you set up all of your preferences, the difference here is the types of preferences you set, everything from the traditional favourites to how and where you prefer to shop. Then when you construct recipes you start to define them on a scale accross key areas like salty, spicy etc. All of this additional data helps to make the search work.
I am sure this is just the beginning of this type of technology. Give it a go, ask it a more specific question and see what it comes back with.