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Southampton demonstrates the future of the web

Published: 19 November 2003

A demonstration by a team from the University of Southampton of how the 'Semantic Web' can be used to collect information from all over the UK and channel it into one database, has won the Semantic Web Challenge 2003 held recently in Florida.

The Semantic Web is a term coined by Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, to represent an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in co-operation.

The winning entry, CS Aktive Space, developed by Professor Nigel Shadbolt and his team at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, demonstrates how they collected information on current activities in computer science from all over the UK to get an up-to-date view of this field.

"If you're looking for an application of what the Semantic Web can do, then this is it," comments Professor Shadbolt. "Through a common framework we can look at everyone else's information and use it. Once we have a critical mass of information, we find that the good outweighs the bad in terms of accuracy and consistency. The trick is to present it in a way that allows humans to assimilate it quickly."

Professor Shadbolt and his team chose computer science as their area of interest, but they are very excited about the potential applications of this technology in many other fields, such as government, military and commercial organisations.

"I believe that this project illustrates where Tim Berners-Lee wants the web to go," comments Professor Shadbolt. "This is the first time that anyone has tried to use semantic web technology on such a scale. We believe that it could change the way that information is gathered and provide current, up-to-date data to key organisations at the touch of a button."

The Semantic Web Challenge is an international annual event which illustrates to society what the Semantic Web can provide and it aims to stimulate current research to a higher goal. Further details can be found at: http://iswc2003.semanticweb.org

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