Alex Wright

Danny Hillis on the Knowledge Web

March 14, 2007

In the wake of Danny Hillis's Metaweb project launch, Edge has just published a follow-up to his 2004 essay, Aristotle: The Knowledge Web. Here Hillis does a good job of articulating the project's basic premise:

In retrospect the key idea in the "Aristotle" essay was this: if humans could contribute their knowledge to a database that could be read by computers, then the computers could present that knowledge to humans in the time, place and format that would be most useful to them. The missing link to make the idea work was a universal database containing all human knowledge, represented in a form that could be accessed, filtered and interpreted by computers.

One might reasonably ask: Why isn't that database the Wikipedia or even the World Wide Web? The answer is that these depositories of knowledge are designed to be read directly by humans, not interpreted by computers. They confound the presentation of information with the information itself. The crucial difference of the knowledge web is that the information is represented in the database, while the presentation is generated dynamically. Like Neal Stephenson's storybook, the information is filtered, selected and presented according to the specific needs of the viewer.
> Danny Hillis, Addendum to Aristotle: The Knowledge Web

File under: Semantic Web

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