Vint Cerf – Google Evangelist On The Internet

cerfVint Cerf talks about Youtube, the future and the semantic web. Of particular interest to me was his opinion on the semantic web:

Q Is the development of the semantic web the next big thing for the internet?

A This is a conundrum. Google could do a better job of presenting relevant search results with them, but where will the tags come from? What vocabularies shall we use? Who supplies the tags and will it be done manually, which has a scaling problem, or automatically? Hopefully the latter.

Today HTML and XHTML is usually generated automatically so we can imagine the same with semantic tags. But we don’t have them now.

Meta-tagging has been abused by web publishers to draw people to sites under false pretences, meaning some search engines ignore meta-tags. This is about online authenticity – digital signatures would be helpful.

And there’s the rub. Who supplies the tags? The current folksonomies certainly aren’t accurate enough to form the basis of a universal tagging system, yet can we trust any one entity with that kind of power? If it is automated where will the automation software reside? Who creates it? Oversees it? What vocabulary will be used? What standards will determine accuracy?

Certainly the major search engines will want to be involved. But what about governments? It’s difficult to get two people to agree on a simple taxonomy, let alone a universal classification system.


  1. What’s interesting is how people actually tag things for example this tag for bahamas includes not only pictures of the bahamas but people in the bahamas. This happens pretty regularly.

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bahamas&m=tags

    however the tag for ferrari is much more “accurate” in showing pictures of ferraris and not as many people in some ferrari context

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ferrari&m=tags

  2. DG

    As much as everyone likes to tout the wonder that is the ‘social web’, I don’t think taxonomies benefit and I certainly don’t think folksonomies are self-correcting. The ‘more the merrier’ doesn’t apply. It’s closer to the more the muddier.

    In the U.S. there’s still raging debate about a national language. Can you imagine a debate centered around classifying the world’s information? ‘Tagging’ historical figures? Religions? Events?

  3. A couple of months ago there was a big hoopla about how one can get people to agree about tagging

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8246463980976635143&q=image+google

    maybe that is the the way to do it

    and on that note, del.icio.us can be treated as a big human computation data source

  4. DG

    Thanks for that link Yoav. Fascinating stuff. I still think we’ve got a long way to go to reach consensus on tagging criteria.

    BTW, I subscribed to your feed to make sure I get notified about the copywriting tool.

  5. Hi DG,

    Thanks for subscribing and tnx*2 for the mention and link.

    Merry Christmas and Happy new year




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