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The O'Reilly Filter?

From: Eric Neumann <eneumann@teranode.com>
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 15:31:24 -0400
Message-Id: <7e6f0c5325e28a970c60f029935ce8e7@teranode.com>
To: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org

Here's a brain-teaser I am putting out to the community...

As part of a story I am writing on the social web in science, I was 
reviewing a few sites including Connotea.org where I discovered an 
interesting disparity:

On its main page, it has a Popular Tags list "of what Connotea's users 
are currently reading about", with fonts sizes relative to the 
popularity of the tag usage. Yet when queried, one of it's most popular 
tags is "Semantic Web", which doesn't even appear on the list, though 
Web 2.0 is listed twice. Curious...

Here is a partial tabulation of listed items and the numbers of 
documents referencing them:

AIDS - 551
Bioinformatics - 781
Biomarker - 68
Chemistry - 667
Malaria - 350
Medicine - 418
Ruby - 95
Web 2.0 - 237

Semantic Web (not on the list)  has 396 references in the main area, 
and 191 within group/semweb-lifesci, placing it between Malaria and 
Medicine in popularity (509 documents within Connotea have some mention 
of Semantic Web). Even RDF has a 236 references as well!

Hmmm... I was wondering if some new kind of social filter or metric is 
being applied here, or perhaps the list is hand-built and not generated 
by stats.

But the mention of Web 2.0 in the list does lead one to wonder: Is Web 
2.0 afraid of the Semantic Web? In a community that values unbiased 
inclusion of facts derived from scientific research, this use of social 
tagging appears to be a bit unscientific and misleading, which 
surprises me more coming from the august Nature Publishing Group.

This is all comes on the heels of last months BioIT-World Conference 
(aka Life Science Expo) where I was puzzled that Tim O'Reilly chose not 
to make any mention of Semantic Web advancements or activities, even 
though he referred to tagging of scientific data. In reply to a 
question from a pharmaceutical representative as to what the difference 
was between Semantic Web and Web 2.0, he glibly said "Semantic Web is 
an inefficient top-down process, while Web 2.0 is a more socially 
driven bottom-up approach". I assumed he was referring to the building 
of ontologies, so I had to correct him that defining data around RDF 
does not require top-down approval processes, and is quite comparable 
to the use of tags. Me thinks there is more to this spin story....

In any case, this is proving to be interesting, so I'm keep an eye on 
this and will try to find out what the real reasons are...

Received on Saturday, 29 April 2006 19:31:29 UTC

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