Boston Social Media Panel Event
Agile Marketing Development At Webtrends: Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, VP Of Marketing

Getting Into Semantics About Semantics

The web is having a profound affect on digital marketing. Searches, social media, cloud computing, are changing the efficiency of managing marketing and also how businesses are run.

Many thought leaders in semantics tell us that the future of semantics will have just as profound effect on tomorrow's web.

Sean Martin is one of those thought leaders; he is CEO of Cambridge Semantics here in Cambridge Massachusetts. I had the opportunity recently to discuss different approaches to building the semantic web where Sean described the little "s" and big "S" of semantic technologies.

I wrote about the big and little "s" of the semantic web in a post after a panel discussion featuring Sean, here's a synopsis from that post about big and little "s":

Little "s" web technologies capture and filter data with no description or understanding of the data provided after the capture process. The process of understanding the meaning of that data starts once data capture has happened. People have to intervene to provide the context and meaning for language on the web.

While big "S" web technologies provide a framework for describing data on a web page when the data on the website is published. If data is read or captured, because the data’s semantic meaning has already been described, you don't have to go through the process of understanding the meaning of the data after the fact.

Currently the semantic web is embryonic; few webmasters have built websites with semantic or big "s" data. The next stage for the web is building big "S" websites where the data is already described within an agreed upon standard.

Alex Iskold wrote a post on ReadWriteWeb called Top-Down: A New Approach to the Semantic Web in 2007. In that post Alex distinguishes the two approaches to building the semantic web, using the term Top-down for little "s" and Bottom-up for Big "S".

It may be just a matter of semantics, but to me although it probably takes more effort with the little "s" or top-down approach, because the bottom-up or big "s" approach offers a greater opportunity and efficiency, I favor Sean Martin's way of describing the two methods for building the semantic web.

Or maybe we should call the two methods, the Tall and the Short!