21 November, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee slams SNSs for URI abuse



The Register reports that Tim Berners-Lee has blasted social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster are referenced) for their abuse of URIs - thereby making each network closed (and / or sticky or non-portable). TBL lambastes these giants of the internet because multiple nuggets of information are lumped together underneath a single URL, rather than assigning each nugget their own URI.

Side note: This lead to some research on the difference between URL and URI. Here is the best example in the comments in the a blog post 'URI vs. URL'.

And they are within a walled garden. To quote the original Scientific American article by TBL: "Connections among data exist only within a site."

As the grand-pappy of the www, he, in theory, is right. However, service providers do need to try and created some stickiness + some barriers to exit to reduce churn in users.

Also, microformats, a method of tagging up content so that common 'types' of information are tagged in a standardised manner: eg an event is tagged up on a page with a standard date / time format, the venue is tagged up with location tags. The intention is that the page could be 'interpretable' so that a host of browser extensions could provide additional intelligence based on knowledge of the user.

For example, imagine that in the example above, you browsed a page containing an event, your browser might pop-up and say 'You have no meetings that morning'.

I have been fascinated by the potential of microformats, as they appear to be an intermediate stepping stone to TBL's vision of the Semantic Web, but in the 6 (or so) years that they have been around, microformats don't appear to have generated any traction. Why is that??

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