The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB) hosted a forum yesterday evening titled, “Web 3.0 and New Opportunities on the Semantic Web.” First of all, the moderator, Paul Saffo, was outstanding and entertaining. He kept things lively and humorous. The panelists (Paul Kedrosky, Alex Iskold, Nova Spivak, and Robert Cook) were also fantastic and represented some excellent startup companies. My takeaway from the event is that a good foundation has been laid for moving the semantic web forward to the next stage. Paul pointed out Flickr as the best early consumer app example of how people are using collective intelligence to make searching and finding the right content better. Alex’s company, Adaptive Blue, and Robert’s company, MetaWeb’s freebase, are prime examples of companies making strides with the semantic web. Alex has a written several great posts on the topic. Here is one in particular that I think is very insightful as to the direction that websites are headed with respect to 'web 3.0.' (View Post) Nova’s startup company, Radar Networks, is certainly one to watch but evidently some of what they are doing is still under wraps. Nova did an exceptional speed-prezo in about 2 minutes and shared this most excellent slide with the audience that lays out where we currently are on the path to arriving at the semantic web. Here is a link to some of his posts on the subject as well. (View Post)
The semantic web is indeed on the cutting edge of transforming search, advertising, content distribution and commerce. Some of the companies that panelists mentioned that are doing interesting things and helping to push the semantic web forward included Powerset, Hakia, and MapLight. What is exciting about the semantic web is how down the road (okay we’re talking 2030 or so) literally all of the information and disparate databases on the web will interconnect and the computers will be far more intelligent in how thyey read, process and deliver information to people. At the end of the forum, Nova pointed out that no one in the audience or on the panel mentioned where there is likely an untapped opportunity with the semantic web, and it is the one that really drove people to the web -- the sex industry. I certainly hope and expect that there will be far greater and more useful arenas that will propel the semantic web faster to it materializing.