Home' Technology Review : March April 2007 Contents An intriguing, if stealthy, company called Metaweb Tech-
nologies, spun out of Applied Minds by parallel-computing
pioneer Danny Hillis, is promising to "extract ordered
knowledge out of the infor mation chaos that is the current
Internet," according to its website. Hillis has previously
written about a "Knowledge Web" with data-organization
characteristics similar to those that Berners-Lee champions,
but he has not yet said whether Metaweb will be based on
Semantic Web standards. The company has been funded
by Benchmark Capital, Millennium Technology Ventures,
and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, among others.
"We ve built up a set of powerful tools and utilities and
initiatives in the Web-based community, and to leverage and
harness them, an infrastr ucture is desperately needed," says
Millennium managing partner Dan Burstein. "The Web needs
extreme computer science to support these applications."
Alternatively, the socially networked, tag-rich ser vices of
Flickr, Last.fm, Del.icio.us, and the like are already impos-
ing a grassroots order on collections of photos, music data-
bases, and Web pages. Allowing Web users to draw their
own connections, creating, sharing, and modifying their own
systems of organization, provides data with str ucture that is
usefully modeled on the way people think, advocates say.
"The world is not like a set of shelves, nor is it like a
database," says NYU s Shirky. "We see this over and over
with tags, where we have an actual picture of the human
brain classifying information."
No one knows what organizational technique will ulti-
mately prevail. But what s increasingly clear is that di er-
ent kinds of order, and a variety of ways to unearth data and
reuse it in new applications, are coming to the Web. There
will be no Dewey here, no one system that arranges all the
world s digital data in a single framework.
Even in his role as digital librarian, as custodian of the
Semantic Web s development, Miller thinks this variety is
good. It s been one of the goals from the beginning, he says.
If there is indeed a Web 3.0, or even just a 2.1, it will be a
hybrid, spun from a number of technological threads, all
helping to make data more accessible and more useful.
"It s exciting to see Web 2.0 and social software come on
line, but I nd it even more exciting when that data can be
shared," Miller says. "This notion of trying to recombine
the data together, and driving new kinds of data, is really
at the heart of what we ve been focusing on."
John Borland is the coauthor of Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise
of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic. He lives in Berlin.
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