The Semantic Web and the Online Educational Experience
Nov 03, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes
Andy Carvin takes the occasion of the launching of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) to discuss how the Semantic Web will change the way the web works. It's not a bad discussion, but I think it misses a very important difference between Web 2.0, properly so-called, and the Semantic Web, properly so-called. And that is this: the latter depends largely on formal specifications involving a lot of overhead, such as schemas, ontologies, web services, and the like. But Web 2.0 was developed using very simple and often informal protocols, such as RSS, FOAF and REST. There is room, of course, for the two approaches to co-exist and even communicate. Still, the semantic web is an enterprise-heavy approach, while Web 2.0 is the populist approach, and there is an ongoing tension between the two. Ironically, learning object metadata (LOM) takes the worst from each approach: it lacks the simplicity of Web 2.0, but it lacks the semantics formalism of the Semantic Web.
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