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March 14, 2008

Yahoo search & the Semantic Web

There was a good deal of excitement yesterday at an announcement on the Yahoo! Search weblog that they will be introducing support in the Yahoo Search Monkey platform for indexing some data made available on the Web using Semantic Web standards or using some microformats. In yesterday's post, "Dublin Core" is mentioned as one of the vocabularies which will be supported; it also refers to support for both the W3C's RDFa and Ian Davis' Embedded/Embeddable RDF (Aside: I've been starting to explore RDFa recently and I'm quite excited about the potential, but that should be the topic of a separate post.)

A post by Micah Dubinko provides some further detail in an FAQ style.

It is worth bearing in mind the note of caution from Paul Miller that such an approach brings with it the challenges of dealing with malicious or mischievous attempts to spam rankings, and as I think Micah Dubinko's post makes clear, this is not going to be an aggregator of all the RDF data on the Web. But nevertheless it seems to represents a very significant development in terms of the use of metadata by a major Web search engine (after all the years I've spent having to break it to dismayed Dublin Core aficionados that the metadata from their HTML headers almost certainly wasn't going to be used by any of the global search engines, and unless they knew of an application that was going to index/harvest it, they might wish to consider whether the effort was worthwhile!) - and for the use of Semantic Web technologies in particular.

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Pete, even without the Yahoo announcement, with tools like Zotero today you may want to revise that view of effort to put DC into (some) page headers.

A friend and I gave a presentation on Zotero recently to our ASIS&T student group. By putting a little DC metadata in the header of the web page we made for the presentation we may well have made a bigger impression on those students than any they got in their intro class where they are first exposed to it.

In fact, I'd recommend that simple little exercise to any LIS educator wanting to give some idea of the value of DC on the open web to their students.

@Mark: Yeah, good point. I was probably over-egging the pudding with that comment. But I do still think that for many people creating that metadata, it was discovery that was uppermost in their mind, and they thought/hoped it would be used by some sort of search aggregator. Though the planned server-side features for Zotero may have a role there too, I guess.

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