21.080 The Semantic Web and Humanties Computing?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 12:39:05 +0100

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 80.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 11:55:15 +0100
         From: Ryan Deschamps <Ryan.Deschamps_at_Dal.Ca>
         Subject: The Semantic Web and Humanties Computing


I am interested in hearing responses from the list regarding the so-called
"semantic web" and its related buzzword "metaweb" and "Web 3.0."

If I may try to precis the acronym-laden wikipedia article, Semantic Web refers
to the design of rich information sites by exploiting web 2.0/social web

A popular example of this is Freebase (www.freebase.com) which is attempting to
cross-link all sorts of data from around the world using social softwares such
as Wikipedia.

There are a few recent tech developments that has me thinking about
the semantic
web as a discussion piece for Humanist.

1. Screen monitors that fold like paper:

2. Microsoft's "surface computer":

3. Photosynth technology:

Take these three technologies and add them to a "freebase-ish" datasource and
you could conceivably have a mind-blowing experience.

Imagine, if you will, a paper-based product that uses a multi-touch
interface. You could have an electronic device that works pretty
much like a book with the
ability to "turn pages" with the fingers and re-size the screen to suit vision

Using the photosynth technology, you could make a large number of
text resources
available in a small page. But it could be more than that. Imagine a
footnote in a work that is, in fact, also a microscopic copy of the entire work
being cited (highlighting the quoted or referred to text of course).
Wikipedia articles could be included to help with word definitions and basic
context for historical references in a work. And (to take the Notre Dame
example from the Photosynth video), someone could have a virtual tour of the
Notre Dame Cathedral to go along with Hugo's story about the Hunchback.

These ideas are nothing short of what has been projected for the future
thousands of times before, but the development of these technologies appears to
be making them that much closer to a reality. Also, the "how" and the "why"
of the ideas are far more intricate and (I hope) interesting.

Of course, I would like to leave the intricate part to your readers. :)


Ryan Deschamps BA (English) MLIS, MPA
Received on Wed Jun 06 2007 - 07:45:28 EDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Wed Jun 06 2007 - 07:45:29 EDT