Lots is being written about how the internet will evolve into a semantic web (sometimes known as web 3.0).
The Semantic web promises to provide a framework that will revolutionise how components of the web can connect to establish meaningful actions.
It’s often easiest to explain a future state with an example of how the semantic web will address a challenging problem.
This article by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila does just that.
The entertainment system was belting out the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” when the phone rang. When Pete answered, his phone turned the sound down by sending a message to all the other local devices that had a volume control. His sister, Lucy, was on the line from the doctor’s office: “Mom needs to see a specialist and then has to have a series of physical therapy sessions. Biweekly or something. I’m going to have my agent set up the appointments.” Pete immediately agreed to share the chauffeuring.
At the doctor’s office, Lucy instructed her Semantic Web agent through her handheld Web browser. The agent promptly retrieved information about Mom’s prescribed treatment from the doctor’s agent, looked up several lists of providers, and checked for the ones in-plan for Mom’s insurance within a 20-mile radius of her home and with a rating of excellent or very good on trusted rating services. It then began trying to find a match between available appointment times (supplied by the agents of individual providers through their Web sites) and Pete’s and Lucy’s busy schedules. (The emphasized keywords indicate terms whose semantics, or meaning, were defined for the agent through the Semantic Web.)
In a few minutes the agent presented them with a plan. Pete didn’t like it�University Hospital was all the way across town from Mom’s place, and he’d be driving back in the middle of rush hour. He set his own agent to redo the search with stricter preferences about location and time. Lucy’s agent, having complete trust in Pete’s agent in the context of the present task, automatically assisted by supplying access certificates and shortcuts to the data it had already sorted through.
Almost instantly the new plan was presented: a much closer clinic and earlier times�but there were two warning notes. First, Pete would have to reschedule a couple of his less important appointments. He checked what they were�not a problem. The other was something about the insurance company’s list failing to include this provider under physical therapists: “Service type and insurance plan status securely verified by other means,” the agent reassured him. “(Details?)”
Lucy registered her assent at about the same moment Pete was muttering, “Spare me the details,” and it was all set. (Of course, Pete couldn’t resist the details and later that night had his agent explain how it had found that provider even though it wasn’t on the proper list.)
This is a great story, and just a small glimpse into the many changes coming our way !