Advertisers will outwit intelligent web

20 Nov 2007

BT futurologist Ian Pearson says that though the intelligent web of the future will be better able to sieve through online content to find relevant information for the end user, it may not be able to block unwanted advertisements.

“The Semantic Web would give you a great deal of personal choice but you can only do that to the degree that the information co-operates: you may only be able to get information bound up with companies’ logos and their adverts, you probably won’t be able to get around that.”

Pearson says that the Semantic Web is what will herald one of the biggest changes in how we access information online because it will alter the structure of the World Wide Web itself essentially by changing the language through which computers and people communicate.

Most people use the phrase ‘Web 2.0’ to describe the next generation of the internet but it is possible to avoid encountering its defining features such as social networking sites, wikis (collective online pools of knowledge), or websites with a media-rich, user-friendly interface.

On the other hand Pearson says of the Semantic Web: “I think it is a very important technology that is going to change things dramatically in terms of making the computer able to gather, analyze and sort information for you based on your preferences and what sort of things are important to you.

“The Semantic Web is like a full-blown version of XML [computer language used to create websites] where you can mark up almost any kind of information for the computer to analyse and then understand what it means,” he said.

If information is tagged in a way that a computer can read and interpret instead of simply reading text or data files, the computer can process the knowledge itself and make decisions much like the way a human does.

This could lead to computers playing a more ‘intelligent’ role in gathering and sorting research as well as performing exact internet searches for the end user.

However, this is all down to how well signposted the information is in the first place, says Pearson. If the human interaction doesn’t involve tagging the information, be it video, text or audio, using the right Semantic Web standards, then the computer will not interpret it properly.

By Marie Boran