Yahoo! and DERI develop Common Tag for semantic web

26 Jun 2009

A new way to enhance web content for the semantic web – called Common Tag – has been developed at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway in collaboration with major internet firms.

The collaboration involved major internet portal Yahoo!, as well as AdaptiveBlue, Faviki, Freebase, Zemanta and Zigtag.

Over 100 researchers at DERI focus on the semantic web, which is the next incarnation of the internet and is expected to be more intuitive because data will be defined and linked.

“The possibilities offered by Common Tag are really exciting,” explained Dr Alexandre Passant, postdoctoral researcher at DERI. “When people start using it to tag their data, lots of new usages will emerge.

“For instance, it will be easier to find content related to a particular music genre, a movie or a location. Common Tag is another concrete step to enable the semantic web, a vision of the web that we have been working on in DERI at NUI Galway for the past five years.”

Peter Mika from Yahoo! Research emphasised: “Semantic tagging is an important next step in the evolution of the web. When we add semantic meaning to tags, the content that is tagged becomes significantly easier for machines to understand. That in turn allows for the development of more intelligent applications for aggregating, searching, and browsing the web”.

On a website, tags are a kind of label which are embedded behind and image or piece of text. Tags have long been used tags to organise, share and search for content on the web.

However, in the absence of a common tagging format for web content, the benefits of tagging have been limited. Individual places such as New York City are often represented by multiple tags (for example, ‘nyc’, ‘new_york_city’, and ‘newyork’), making it difficult to organise related content.

In addition, it isn’t always clear what a particular tag represents – does the tag ‘jaguar’ represent the animal, the car company or the operating system?

The Common Tag format was developed to address these shortcomings and help everyone including end users, publishers, and developers to get more out of web content. With Common Tag, content is tagged with unique, well-defined concepts, for example, everything about jaguar the animal is tagged with one concept for jaguar the animal.

The Common Tag format also provides access to useful metadata that defines each concept and describes how the concepts relate to one another. For example, metadata for the Barack Obama concept indicates that he’s the President of the United States and that he’s married to Michelle Obama.

DERI was established at NUI Galway in 2003 by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) as a Centre for Science and Engineering Technology (CSET) with a focus on researching web science, sensors and their use in enabling networked knowledge.

Currently on its second major five-year research programme, DERI’s research output is being used by its eight CSET industry partners to maintain competitive advantage, contribute towards next-generation product development and as an innovation enabler.

DERI is also actively engaged in technology spin-outs and licensing of its leading-edge technologies. Since its establishment it has since grown to over 120 people and has acquired significant additional research funding from sources such as the European Union Framework Programmes, Enterprise Ireland and industrial partnerships.

“Together with previous work done here regarding SIOC (Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities), and a project like FOAF (Friend of a Friend) in which DERI also participates, Common Tag now provides a complete ecosystem to represent social data on the web in a meaningful and understandable way,” Dr Passant added.

By John Kennedy