All The Data In Your Life

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, currently advocates for the development of a semantic web, which would allow machines to be able to understand and reason about the data available online. Toward that end, he was recently quoted in an article by The Times. I was intrigued by what he said:

Imagine if two completely separate things — your bank statements and your calendar — spoke the same language and could share information with one another. You could drag one on top of the other and a whole bunch of dots would appear showing you when you spent your money.

If you still weren’t sure of where you were when you made a particular transaction, you could then drag your photo album on top of the calendar, and be reminded that you used your credit card at the same time you were taking pictures of your kids at a theme park. So you would know not to claim it as a tax deduction.

It’s about creating a seamless web of all the data in your life.

The Semantic Web, in capitalized form, has its detractors, and I’m a bit of a skeptic myself. Luckily, all the metadata exists today to make interfaces such as this feasible to implement. Activity streams, central to social networks like Facebook and FriendFeed, are a simplistic example.

As more and more information moves online and demands our attention, new ways of extracting meaning will arise as engineers and designers experiment with new user interface concepts. It will be exciting to watch what develops.


Lonna Hanson
March 13, 2008 at 10:26 AM

EXCITING to say the least. As people with a “flair” for organization try to make sense out of the many data sources that they deal with in their work and professioinal lives, this thought is very intriguing.

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