by Valrie Davis, Florida & Caribbean Chapter, Food, Agriculture & Nutrition Division
Many of us understand that we have moved beyond Web 2.0 and into Web 3.0 – sometimes called the Semantic Web. But what does it all mean, how can librarians become a part of the effort, and can we take it a step further and, ourselves, become Librarian 3.0? The World Wide Web, as we know it, is adding a new underlying semantic layer that allows machines to find, share and communicate meaning. Librarians are long familiar with the connections between data – but not how these types of connections might change or become enhanced with machine readability. Librarians have no reason to fear for our jobs (or rather, there is no reason to fear for our jobs as we know it) as there is a role for us in the new world of semantically driven information. We too can shape development and assist in the building of common links between data, resources, and services. Towards that end, here are 8 easy steps to becoming Semantic Web savvy:
- Get portable: make yourself and your services mobile.
- Get social: understand what social networking tools exist for managing and sharing information. We are becoming increasingly familiar with tools such as Twitter and the Google Suite. The list grows by the day! (FriendFeed, Collexis, VIVO, Mendeley, BibApp, Scientopia, etc.)
- Focus on the individual: semantics help build and serve communities, while simultaneously better serving the individual. People join community networks when their individual needs are met. Web 3.0 is about personalizing the information experience.
- Provide dynamic content: understand how machines can help deliver content to you. Find the tools that assist you in locating the information your user requires.
- Widgets and mash-ups: Identify which widget tools would be the best to showcase on your website. Be your own widget by combining or showcasing your services in unlikely places.
- Organization: get involved in the underlying organization of information through the development of ontologies and other Semantic Web standards (RDF, OWL, SPARQL, SKOS, etc.). It’s no longer just for catalogers and programmers!
- Contextualize your support: How is location important? Are your users device driven? Subject driven?
- Filtering: Web 3.0 filters out the stuff that doesn’t pertain to your context – a time honored role of librarians. Not only are we utilizing the Semantic Web to categorize resources (journal article, book, person, datasets, etc.) but also relationships (author of, employed by, head of) between resources. These semantic relationships help us filter through the information to identify what we need (i.e., all journal articles written by people employed by University of X).
Becoming Semantic Web savvy isn’t as difficult as you think, and it’s the beginnings of a new and interesting approach to structuring and discussing data. There are lots of great conferences having these conversations – get involved in the discussion and bring that discussion to SLA! Additionally, look around and see how much you and your colleagues are already involved in some aspect of Web 3.0. You will be surprised.
Valrie Davis is an Agricultural Sciences Librarian at the University of Florida and the UF Implementation Lead for VIVO, a semantic web application used as the foundation for a national network of researchers (http://vivoweb.org). She has been a member of SLA since 2005 and is the current Chair of the Food, Agriculture, Nutrition Division.