Twine Time: Web 3.0?

Just a quick post to highlight Twine, a startup competing in the semantic web space who dubs itself the first mainstream semantic web application. Frankly, in taking a quick look at it through these two posts (Twine: The First Mainstream Semantic Web App and Twine Launches A Smarter Way to Organize Your Online Life) it doesn’t strike me as a semantic web application at all.

When I think “semantic web” I think about three things:

  • The concept: to make the web machine interpretable as opposed to simply machine deliverable.
  • A set of core technologies (e.g., RDF, OWL, SPARQL) which by and large have not taken off in the market.
  • Inferencing to create new information from the web itself. For example, if site A says that Bandit Kellogg is a Bernese Mountain Dog and site B says that Bernese Mountain Dogs eat socks, then you can induce that fact that Bandit Kellogg eats socks (which he does, voraciously).

Perhaps mine is a traditional or outdated view of the semantic web vision, but I’m not sure. See this post by Nitin Karandikar entitled The Promise of the Semantic Web for his take, which is similar to mine. (The post is based on an interview with Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, makers of Twine.)

When I look at Twine, I see more Web 2.0 technologies

  • Tagging
  • Collaboration
  • Wikis
  • Diggs

Yes, it appears that Twine does automatic entity extraction (which they call Smart Tags) against things that are bookmarked. And they say they use a bunch of semantic web technologies inside the system to figure out relationships between the tags and between people and tags. Excerpt from the Read/WriteWeb:

Where Twine is differentiated from the likes of wikipedia is that its underlying data structure is entirely Semantic Web. Spivack told me that the following Semantic Web technologies are being used: RDF, OWL, SPARQL, XSL. Also he said that they plan to use GRDDL in the near future. Spivack had an interesting term for what Twine is doing with Semantic Web technologies, riffing off the Facebook Social Graph. Spivack is calling Twine a “Semantic Graph”, which he says will map relationships to both people and topics. So Twine’s Semantic Graph actually integrates the Social Graph.

I’d like offer more commentary on Twine but it seems their newfound popularity is impacting their website — I couldn’t successfully register for the invite-only Beta. When I clicked “register” it just hung forever. I’ll try again in a few weeks and if it works and if I get invited to the Beta, I’ll share some first-hand feedback.

Meantime, see the two posts cited above or check out Nitin Karandikar’s email interview with Nova Spivack on his Software Abstractions blog.

One response to “Twine Time: Web 3.0?

  1. Hi Mark — In answer to your questions about whether Twine is a Semantic Web product: In fact it is. The data is represented in RDF and the data model is all in OWL, and is extensible that way. We have a SPARQL API as well as REST and other API’s. Our platform does certain kinds of inferencing natively, and others will be possible later on. The system supports semantic query in the app and the API level. What we’re exposing in this version of Twine is only just scratching the surface of what’s under the hood and will be exposed later on…Best regards,Nova SpivackCEO, Radar Networks (http://www.radarnetworks.com)

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