Saturday, April 12, 2008

Google and Web 3.0?

Maybe Google gets it afterall. Google has made its foray into the Semweb with its new Social Graph API coding. What's that? And why should you care? In having the Social Graph API, it makes information about the public connections between people on the Web, expressed by XFN and FOAF markup and other publicly declared connections, easily available and useful for developers. The public web is made up of linked pages that represent both documents and people. Google Search helps make this information more accessible and useful.

In other words, if you take away the documents, you're left with the connections between people. Information about the public connections between people is really useful. A user might want to see who else you're connected to, and as a developer of social applications, you can provide better features for your users if you know who their public friends are. There hasn't been a good way to access this information.

The Social Graph API looks for two types of publicly declared connections:

  1. It looks for all public URLs that belong to you and are interconnected. This could be a blog, Facebook, and a Twitter account.
  2. It looks for publicly declared connections between people. For example, your blog may link to someone else's blog while your Facebook and Twitter are linked to each other.

This index of connections enables developers to build many applications including the ability to help users connect to their public friends more easily. Google is taking the resulting data and making it available to third parties, who can build this into their applications (including their Google Open Social applications). Of course, the problem is that few people use FOAF and XFN to declare their relationships, but Google's new API could make them more visible and social applications could use them. Ultimately, Google could also index the relationships from social networks if people are comfortable with that.

What does this mean for information professionals? Stay tuned. By having Google on board the Semweb train, (or ship), it could pave the way for more bricks to be laid on the road to realizing the goal of differentiating Paris from Paris.

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