NEWS


Computing Now Exclusive Content — August 2011

News Archive

July 2012

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

June 2012

Bringing Location and Navigation Technology Indoors

May 2012

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

Encryption System Flaw Threatens Internet Security

April 2012

For Business Intelligence, the Trend Is Location, Location, Location

Corpus Linguistics Keep Up-to-Date with Language

March 2012

Are Tomorrow's Firewalls Finally Here Today?

February 2012

Spatial Humanities Brings History to Life

December 2011

Could Hackers Take Your Car for a Ride?

November 2011

What to Do about Supercookies?

October 2011

Lights, Camera, Virtual Moviemaking

September 2011

Revolutionizing Wall Street with News Analytics

August 2011

Growing Network-Encryption Use Puts Systems at Risk

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

July 2011

FBI Employs New Botnet Eradication Tactics

Google and Twitter "Like" Social Indexing

June 2011

Computing Commodities Market in the Cloud

May 2011

Intel Chips Step up to 3D

Apple Programming Error Raises Privacy Concerns

Thunderbolt Promises Lightning Speed

April 2011

Industrial Control Systems Face More Security Challenges

Microsoft Effort Takes Down Massive Botnet

March 2011

IP Addresses Getting Security Upgrade

February 2011

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

January 2011

New Web Protocol Promises to Reduce Browser Latency

To Be or NAT to Be?

December 2010

Intel Gets inside the Helmet

Tuning Body-to-Body Networks with RF Modeling

November 2010

New Wi-Fi Spec Simplifies Connectivity

Expanded Top-Level Domains Could Spur Internet Real Estate Boom

October 2010

New Weapon in War on Botnets

September 2010

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

Gesturing Going Mainstream

August 2010

Is Context-Aware Computing Ready for the Limelight?

Flexible Routing in the Cloud

Signal Congestion Rejuvenates Interest in Cell Paging-Channel Protocol

July 2010

New Protocol Improves Interaction among Networked Devices and Applications

Security for Domain Name System Takes a Big Step Forward

The ROADM to Smarter Optical Networking

Distributed Cache Goes Mainstream

June 2010

New Application Protects Mobile-Phone Passwords

WiGig Alliance Reveals Ultrafast Wireless Specification

Cognitive Radio Adds Intelligence to Wireless Technology

May 2010

New Product Uses Light Connections in Blade Server

April 2010

Browser Fingerprints Threaten Privacy

New Animation Technique Uses Motion Frequencies to Shake Trees

March 2010

Researchers Take Promising Approach to Chemical Computing

Screen-Capture Programming: What You See is What You Script

Research Project Sends Data Wirelessly at High Speeds via Light

February 2010

Faster Testing for Complex Software Systems

IEEE 802.1Qbg/h to Simplify Data Center Virtual LAN Management

Distributed Data-Analysis Approach Gains Popularity

Twitter Tweak Helps Haiti Relief Effort

January 2010

2010 Rings in Some Y2K-like Problems

Infrastructure Sensors Improve Home Monitoring

Internet Search Takes a Semantic Turn

December 2009

Phase-Change Memory Technology Moves toward Mass Production

IBM Crowdsources Translation Software

Digital Ants Promise New Security Paradigm

November 2009

Program Uses Mobile Technology to Help with Crises

More Cores Keep Power Down

White-Space Networking Goes Live

Mobile Web 2.0 Experiences Growing Pains

October 2009

More Spectrum Sought for Body Sensor Networks

Optics for Universal I/O and Speed

High-Performance Computing Adds Virtualization to the Mix

ICANN Accountability Goes Multinational

RFID Tags Chat Their Way to Energy Efficiency

September 2009

Delay-Tolerant Networks in Your Pocket

Flash Cookies Stir Privacy Concerns

Addressing the Challenge of Cloud-Computing Interoperability

Ephemeralizing the Web

August 2009

Bluetooth Speeds Up

Grids Get Closer

DCN Gets Ready for Production

The Sims Meet Science

Sexy Space Threat Comes to Mobile Phones

July 2009

WiGig Alliance Makes Push for HD Specification

New Dilemnas, Same Principles:
Changing Landscape Requires IT Ethics to Go Mainstream

Synthetic DNS Stirs Controversy:
Why Breaking Is a Good Thing

New Approach Fights Microchip Piracy

Technique Makes Strong Encryption Easier to Use

New Adobe Flash Streams Internet Directly to TVs

June 2009

Aging Satellites Spark GPS Concerns

The Changing World of Outsourcing

North American CS Enrollment Rises for First Time in Seven Years

Materials Breakthrough Could Eliminate Bootups

April 2009

Trusted Computing Shapes Self-Encrypting Drives

March 2009

Google, Publishers to Try New Advertising Methods

Siftables Offer New Interaction Model for Serious Games

Hulu Boxed In by Media Conglomerates

February 2009

Chips on Verge of Reaching 32 nm Nodes

Hathaway to Lead Cybersecurity Review

A Match Made in Heaven: Gaming Enters the Cloud

January 2009

Government Support Could Spell Big Year for Open Source

25 Reasons For Better Programming

Web Guide Turns Playstation 3 Consoles into Supercomputing Cluster

Flagbearers for Technology: Contemporary Techniques Showcase US Artifact and European Treasures

December 2008

.Tel TLD Debuts As New Way to Network

Science Exchange

November 2008

The Future is Reconfigurable

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

by George Lawton

The Semantic Web, long touted as the Web's next generation, has never really taken off.

According to Yahoo researcher and data architect Peter Mika, an important reason that website developers haven't flocked to the approach is that they must contend with multiple incompatible specifications to do so.

Now, though, Schema.org — a new project organized by major search-engine providers Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo — promises to improve Semantic Web adoption by building support for a single set of structured data specifications.

These specifications would let website publishers better use markup tags to more accurately describe the words, numbers, and other material on their pages, enabling search engines and other applications to more clearly determine their meaning in context.

The specification promises to enable applications to work with more Web-based data, noted Manu Sporny, chair of the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) RDF Web Applications Working Group.

"[This would] make the Web more transparent, efficient, and open," said Sporny, who is also president of Digital Bazaar, which develops technology for buying and selling digital content online.

In the short run, agreement among the big search-engine providers could raise the visibility of semantic technologies and encourage website operators to incorporate semantic data.

However, Schema.org's exclusive use of microdata—just one of several structured-data approaches—also raises some concerns that the specifications' limitations could create problems such as scalability and data management.

The Semantic Web's Promise

The term Semantic Web was coined in 2001 by W3C director Tim Berners-Lee — the approach's most vocal advocate and the World Wide Web's inventor.

Since then, though, adoption of Semantic Web principles has been somewhat limited.

Nonetheless, said Mika, the approach has been successful so far in two major ways.

Linked data

Sophisticated Web users have built a network of linked data, a system of linked datasets describing the same people, places, and things.

This makes searching for various content sources that address the same concepts much easier, said Mika.

"These are powerful technologies that let sophisticated users find, share, and process data, as well as find related datasets," Mika explained.

Embedding data in webpages

Structured data specifications have emerged for embedding data directly in HTML pages.

The most common specifications are microdata (www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/microdata.html#microdata), microformats (http://microformats.org), and RDFa. (Resource Description Framework in attributes, www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-rdfa-primer).

Using these specifications, embedding data in HTML can be as simple as adding a few new attribute values to the HTML tags.

However, they take different approaches to using tags to embed information about words, numbers, and other elements in webpages. They also represent different trade-offs in terms of expressiveness and markup complexity.

Trouble in paradise

The use of structured-data technologies, which would help advance Semantic Web implementation, has not been widespread. In fact, Mika said, only about 5 percent of all websites incorporate structured data, due in part to the existence of multiple, incompatible specifications.

"Unfortunately, [in the past], the [major] search engines settled on different syntaxes and different sets of vocabularies, often for the same type of information," he explained.

Thus, in the worst case, website developers who want their content to work with each of the engines have to mark up their pages in multiple ways.

This has made the process complex and error-prone, resulting in low adoption, Mika said.

Schema.org

As part of Schema.org, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have agreed to support a single set of structured data specifications and vocabularies based on the microdata approach.

This removes the largest obstacle to Semantic Web adoption, which is markup fragmentation, said Mika.

Website owners and search-engine-optimization specialists who use Schema.org markup will know that the three major search engines will understand their pages. And as Web-development tools increase support for microdata, the Schema.org specifications should become easier to implement.

However, some researchers are concerned about Schema.org's focus on microdata.

The Web is so diverse, creating a single vocabulary that addresses all markup needs has not proven to be practical, Sporny explained.
For example, he said, RDFa is better than microdata at data typing and managing large datasets.

In the long run, Sprony said, Schema.org's decision to focus exclusively on microdata might create scaling and management problems because microdata's computational and storage requirements grow faster with increased data volumes than the other structured-data specifications.

He noted that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo agreed on their Schema.org approach without consulting the W3C.

The Schema.org website states, "We will … be monitoring the web for RDFa and microformats adoption, and if they pick up, we will look into supporting these syntaxes." But there are no plans to do so yet.

In the short run, the search engines will drive such moves, said Mika.

He added, "We expect that Schema.org will have an impact in the next few months. Currently, only 5 percent of webpages employ some form of markup, so there is room to grow."

George Lawton is a freelance journalist based in Guerneville, CA. You can contact him at glawton@glawton.com.