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Waiting for the Semantic Web

Yahoo is about to add semantic elements to search, as announced on March 13 at For educators, evolution toward search based on meaning and not just a character-string is highly significant.

With search as it is now, using Google or Yahoo or Microsoft and so on, we must imagine what terms might describe the object we're looking for. We might try 2 or 3 or more different ways to find the right search string to come up with appropriate sites.

But maybe there's help on the way. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),, is developing standards such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) to help us find and use knowledge domains. Now, a search might turn up a scholarly article, a club, a kind of automobile, the history of bottle caps, and 14 thousand other possibilities; with semantic technologies, and agreement about terminology in a knowledge domain, search will produce more relevant resources. And, among those resources, knowledge-seekers can find derivative sources to extend the search.

In a way, the Semantic Web (which is the real Web that was intended all along) can help create free-floating, momentary virtual libraries constructed just-in-time by the terms of the search. Semantic technologies will provide us more of what we want to know, some of what we didn't know we wanted to know, and less of what we had no interest in at all.

About the Author

Trent Batson is the president and CEO of AAEEBL (, serving on behalf of the global electronic portfolio community. He was a tenured English professor before moving to information technology administration in the mid-1980s. Batson has been among the leaders in the field of educational technology for 25 years, the last 10 as an electronic portfolio expert and leader. He has worked at 7 universities but is now full-time president and CEO of AAEEBL. Batson’s ePortfolio: E-mail: [email protected]

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