Intelligence sifting through the Web

Interest in the Semantic Web appears to be taking off, with users flocking to social bookmarking sites and search engines incorporating new technology.

Interest in the Semantic Web appears to be taking off, with skyrocketing traffic reported on Twine.com.

The shared bookmarking service, still in public beta, crossed the 2 million unique-visitor-a-month mark, from 1.3 million visitors the month before, according to April Compete.com statistics.

TechCrunch also recently reported the site overtook popular social aggregator Friendfeed.com toward December last year, and now pulls in more than three times the U.S. visitor count that Friendfeed does, at 714,000 compared to 188,000 per month, respectively.

Twine relies on user feedback to sort pages into groups. It also mines and categorizes data through a page's RDF (resource description framework) tags.

Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has expounded the concept of the Semantic Web for several years. Back in 2006, he said that technology is ready to make the Semantic Web happen. The W3C's Semantic Web project pushes for a set of formal specifications--including RDF--to guide aspects of the Web such as data classification, in an effort to make information understandable by computers in the right context.

The concept of social bookmarking is not new, although Twine's incorporation of RDF appears to set it apart from competitors. Yahoo in 2005 launched a "social search" service, where search results were manually bookmarked and labeled by users. Social bookmarking sites Delicious--acquired by Yahoo in 2005--and Stumbleupon also rely on user feedback to categorize sites.

Twine's momentum is building up amid the recent launch of several search engines attempting to make sense of Web content with intelligent technology.

Wolfram Alpha
Based on mathematical and statistics software Mathematica, the site launched in May to much interest online.

According to founder Stephen Wolfram, it attempts to answer questions phrased in sentences by computing structured data.

However, interest appears to be waning. Compare.com statistics shows its unique visitor count dropped from 102,025 in March to 74,567 in April.

Hulbee
Launched days apart from Wolfram Alpha, Hulbee is a search engine from Swiss software company Grossbay.

It incorporates Yahoo's search index, but uses its own knowledge management software to display results in a cloud, which it claims will help users refine their searches by connected keywords.

Andreas Wiebe, CEO of Grossbay, said in news reports that the system is aimed at shortening the time spent by users on searching for information online.

Powerset
The startup was launched in 2005, and focused on building a natural language search engine that would process the context of questions posed, rather than run a search on keywords within.

Last year in May, it launched a search tool for Wikipedia, touted to be able to contextually understand the online encyclopedia's content. Expected to go public in the same year, it was soon after acquired by Microsoft in July.

The software giant is expected to incorporate Powerset's technology into its yet-to-be-unveiled search engine Kumo.