Web 2.0 vs. the Semantic Web: A Philosophical Assessment

Episteme 6 (1):25-37 (2009)
Abstract
The paper develops some of the conclusions, reached in Floridi (2007), concerning the future developments of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and their impact on our lives. The two main theses supported in that article were that, as the information society develops, the threshold between online and offline is becoming increasingly blurred, and that once there won't be any significant difference, we shall gradually re-conceptualise ourselves not as cyborgs but rather as inforgs, i.e. socially connected, informational organisms. In this paper, I look at the development of the so-called Semantic Web and Web 2.0 from this perspective and try to forecast their future. Regarding the Semantic Web, I argue that it is a clear and well-defined project, which, despite some authoritative views to the contrary, is not a promising reality and will probably fail in the same way AI has failed in the past. Regarding Web 2.0, I argue that, although it is a rather ill-defined project, which lacks a clear explanation of its nature and scope, it does have the potentiality of becoming a success (and indeed it is already, as part of the new phenomenon of Cloud Computing) because it leverages the only semantic engines available so far in nature, us. I conclude by suggesting what other changes might be expected in the future of our digital environment
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