Application of semantic technologies in Internet on 2020 (II): education

By Javier Carbonell, November 10, 2009 2:15 pm

Yesterday I was reading El caparazón, one of the most relevant blogs about semantic applications in Spanish language, when I found this post about “Education and Web 2.0”. Undoubtedly this is an area where semantic technologies will have an important say in the future.

Some experts state that most of the knowledge that an elementary school student will need to perform his job when he will grow up, don’t exist yet. How can we focus the education in so a rapidly changing environment?. Certainly knowledge is advancing so quickly that it is an almost impossible task trying to keep the pace. This raises a fundamental change in the education approach, as its key task will be to transmit information to the students, to help them to manage all this information, to help them to distinguish useful one from useless, to help them to extract knowledge from all this information… This is, learning how to learn.
No doubt Internet will change education approach at all levels. No longer students will go to university to pick up some notes, or to listen a one way explanation in which the teacher talks and students listen. Because to access to information we have Google, and to hear lectures, we can easily access to those of the outstanding experts in each subject.
Any country that wants to maintain a high level in the knowledge society must be capable of integrating technologies within education systems at all levels. We’re going to be bombarded along all our lives with millions and millions of information bytes, this is a real fact we must live with. In this situation it will be paramount to extract useful knowledge from this information, indeed this will mark the difference among efficient and no efficient people. In this environment semantic technologies will play an important role, because they will help us to navigate through information and to adapt it to our needs, that is to contextualize it. Nowadays, semantic technologies have got an important level of madurity and standards as RDF, or OWL will help us to give the jump form a “textual” management of information to a “concept” treatment of this information. This is a first step and a very important achievement. However, some years will be required to settle these concepts, and to develop technologies allowing us to extract knowledge from all the information around us: this means tools to show us to learn.

Benefits of semantic technologies: One example

By Javier Carbonell, November 9, 2009 1:12 pm

We use to speak about the big benefits of semantic technologies for the enterprise but sometimes we explain them in a very abstract way, so it is very difficult for managers to understand where the real benefits are. For this reason I think that the best way to ”sell”  semantic technologies  is to illustrate benefits by means of an example.

This post tries to explain a real case where semantic technologies can be used:

The strategy department of a multinational company dedicated to the research in the area of Internet Services is considering to buy a start-up company specialized in the development of Social Network technologies. With this acquisition they pretend to enhance their capacity in this business area. As a previous step to the final decision- the company tries to identify all the projects dealing with this theme to calculate its turnover and to identify synergies and redundancies with the start-up to be acquired.
The company has a quality system that compels all project leaders to fill forms with relevant information about the project. This information is sent to a central database where it is stored.

Despite the existing information system, it is very difficult to undertake this analysis because the concept “Social Network” has a high level character with other simpler concepts hanging on it, e.g. digital identity, social communities etc… . Moreover, there is an additional barrier associated with the geographical dispersion of the several research groups, this implies different working guidelines and different terminologies to describe the same concepts. For this reason, numerous meetings and clarifications between project and strategy managers will be needed to analyze the information required.

If the company has built an ontology as described in Figure 1 which depicts the relationships between technologies and the terminology used, then systems can use this knowledge to make a much deeper processing of information, identifying useful projects and relevant information automatically.

Figura 1: Social Networks Ontology


If  furthermore the ontology includes other kind of relationships, such as related technologies, the Information Systems can detect which other technologies and projects can be affected by the acquisition of the start-up, as shown in Figure 2.

Figura 2 Social Networks relation with other technolologies

Semantic technologies represent then a new paradigm in information management, allowing the use of concepts instead of flat data structures. Some advantages of this approach are: eases a more advanced level in information processing, facilitates the communication among different user groups, improves the knowledge management and give a clearer representation of this knowledge.

Semantic Technologies Monthly Review. October

By Javier Carbonell, November 6, 2009 7:22 pm

Lots of news related to semantic technologies have appeared in the media during this month.

  • As is usual some of them are related to search engines for example perfect search , or bing
  • There are some mentions to some application of semantic technologies to concrete areas for example the patent research. In this area LexiNexis announces the introduction of  transparent semantic technologies in the search of patents. Or for example related to advertising, or to smarter aggregators
  • In the area of the press, the NYTimes announces their contribution to the linked data cloud with first 5,000 Tags Released to the Linked Data Cloud
  • In the field of social networks, Adaptive Blue’s Glue is a Firefox add-on that uses semantic technology to understand the subject of the page you are on and then shows you via a bar at the bottom of your browser whether your friends have commented or liked the item anywhere on the Web. During this month Glue’s destination site,, has been launched. This  is a recommendation network for people with the same interests in books, music, movies and other products.
  • The good moment for these technologies is demonstrated by the fact that new projects are getting funds, for example Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), in collaboration with an industry consortium facilitated by Fuji Xerox Australia have got a grant of 1,4 million $ from Australian Research Council (ARC). And by the fact that there are awards for the most innovative companies, for example 2009 Promise and Reality award tries to promote innovative technology solutions for implementing and integrating knowledge management practices into their business processes. Among the list of finalists some companies related to semantic area are included
  • Semantic Technologies are still in the first phase of implementation but there is place for celebrations Thomson Reuters Celebrates Ten Innovative Sites And Services Using OpenCalais.
  •  Semantic technologies applications are very diverse, among them we find very curious tools, one of them is the application of semantic technologies to the book of odds, a tool of a Boston company that is set to answer questions as these: What are the odds of being struck by lightning? Bitten by a rabid dog? Run down by a bus? Audited by the IRS?

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