Emerging Sciences of the Internet: Some New Opportunities
Semantic Web technologies have started to make a difference in enterprise settings and have begun to creep into use in limited parts of the World Wide Web. As is common in overview articles, it is easy to imagine scenarios in which the Semantic Web could provide important infrastructure for activities across the broader Internet. Many of these seem to be focused on improvements to what is essentially a search function (e.g., “list the prices of flat screen HDTVs larger than 40 inches with 1080p resolution at shops in the nearest town that are open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_ Web]), and such capabilities will surely be of use to future Internet users. However, if one looks closely at the research agendas of some of the largest Internet companies, it is not clear that the staples of SW thinking will intersect the most important paths of the major broad-spectrum service providers. Some of the emerging trends in the research labs of key industry players indicate that SW goals generally taken for granted may be less central than envisioned and that the biggest opportunities may come from some less obvious directions. Given the level of investment and the global reach of big players like Yahoo! and Google, it would pay us to look more closely at some of their fundamental investigations.