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Re: The O'Reilly Filter?

From: Timo Hannay <t.hannay@nature.com>
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 02:34:37 +0100
To: Eric Neumann <eneumann@teranode.com>, <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C07B243D.646B%t.hannay@nature.com>
Hi Eric,

Thanks for your comments.  In answer to your questions:

 * The tag cloud is generated automatically ‹ currently every 12 hours or
so, I believe.

 * It doesnıt filter out any terms (except, I think, ³uploaded², which is
the default tag for batch imports) and doesnıt have any intrinsic bias that
weıre aware of.  We certainly would never put in any deliberate bias, still
less filter out mentions of the Semantic Web, of which weıre big fans.  All
of NPGıs RSS feeds (including Connoteaıs) use version 1.0 precisely because
it can be parsed as RDF as well as XML; Connoteaıs web API (to be formally
announced very soon) also uses RDF/XML.

 * I think the reason for the discrepancy you saw is that the tag cloud
looks at *recent* activity, not activity over the whole life of Connotea.  I
believe that the current Œwindowı is about 12 weeks long, but I didnıt write
the algorithm myself, so I could be a bit out.  (In any case, itıs not
completely static: we sometimes revisit the algorithm and tweak the
parameters if we think it will give a more representative view.)  A quick
glance at a couple of Connotea tags seems to indicate that during April just
under 30 URLs were tagged with ³semantic web² whilst over 100 were tagged
with ³web2.0².

So the real reason is that you guys arenıt posting enough. ;)

On the Bio IT World point (for those who werenıt there, I organised and
chaired the session at which Tim OıReilly spoke), I assume that Tim had in
mind mainly the difference between centralised, hierarchical ontologies and
bottom-up, relational folksonomies.  With some justification, the Semantic
Web is often associated with the former and Web 2.0 with the latter.  But I
completely agree with your point that in the bigger picture the Semantic Web
and Web 2.0 arenıt at odds at all.  For example, RDF can be used to express
tag information just as as well as it can be used to express identifiers
from formal ontologies.  Also, it may well turn out that the Œsemantic webı
(i.e., the general concept of a machine-readable and -interpretable web)
will come about as much from Web 2.0 approaches like folksonomies and
microformats as from more traditional ŒSemantic Webı approaches like
ontologies and RDF.  This is all to the good, IMHO.

Thanks again for your interest in our work.




Timo Hannay, PhD
Director of Web Publishing
Nature Publishing Group

Blog: http://blogs.nature.com/wp/nascent/
Bookmarks: http://www.connotea.org/user/timo


On 29/4/06 8:31 pm, "Eric Neumann" <eneumann@teranode.com> wrote:

> 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...
> Eric

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Received on Monday, 1 May 2006 01:35:28 UTC

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