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Get Ahead with A Grasp on Semantic Web

Whether you're a Web 3.0 neophyte or know-it-all, learn how harnessing this emerging technology can boost your media business

By Jessica Roy - January 12, 2010
Remember back in '05 when everyone was buzzing about something called "social networking" and your boss encouraged (read: ordered) you to stop what you were doing and start a MySpace page for your product? Too often, companies who are late to innovate online are left scrambling to do something, anything just to prove they're in the game. Well, the same could happen very soon with semantic technology.

As news content continues to migrate away from print, there's an increased need to develop better systems of monetization. While the proliferation of Web 2.0 introduced content-sharing venues like YouTube and wikis, all focused on creating an interactive person-to-person community online, Web 3.0 takes this idea a step further. Instead of making content easily readable and searchable by people, Web 3.0 -- or, the semantic Web -- strives to make content digestible for the computers themselves. By translating content into a new kind of computer code called RDF (Resource Description Framework), semantic technology generates 'metadata' that helps determine "meaningful relationships" within your content, drawing out people, places, events and facts that regular search engines might overlook. Arthur van Hoff, founder of semantic site The Ellerdale Project, explains it this way: "The semantic Web differs from the regular Web because it connects real-world objects with other real-world objects using relationships. For example, Brad Pitt is married to Angelina Jolie. These two topics (Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie) are connected by the "married" relationship."

And it's more than just plunking a few choice keywords into your stories. Implementing semantic technology into your publishing platform is, unlike SEO, "not a matter of writing headlines or copy in a new way," says Krista Thomas, vice president of marketing and communications at The Calais Initiative, the semantic API of Thomas Reuters. "Semantic technologies to optimize content is presently something that needs to be done at the infrastructure / CMS (content management system) level with the help of one's tech/dev team."

Even if you lack the resources to do a complete semantic Web rebuild of your site, there are still steps you can take today to prepare for the next Internet revolution -- at any level of expertise....

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