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6. The Sociosemantic Web > 6.1. Us and Them

Us and Them

This opportunity to connect and collaborate is particularly evident in the snarky crossfire between the Semantic Web and social software communities. On one side, we have the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C ) led by Tim Berners-Lee and an international corps of software developers involved with or sympathetic to Semantic Web activity. In opposition, we have loosely joined swarms of bloggers and social software advocates, led symbolically if not spiritually by evangelists such as Clay Shirky and David Weinberger.

Though the roots of this argument run deep, this specific branch of debate began in 2001 with a Scientific American article called “The Semantic Web,” which was authored by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila.[*] In this landmark article, the authors articulated an ambitious and engaging vision for the future of the World Wide Web. And make no mistake, this article made an impact. After all, TBL isn’t just some academic geek with a dream. This guy invented the World Wide Web. He’s been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He’s Sir Tim to the likes of us. And Scientific American isn’t just any publication. Established in 1845, it’s the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. Former writers include Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Jonas Salk, and Linus Pauling. The print edition boasts over 650,000 subscribers worldwide. Newsstand sales are more than Fortune and Business Week combined. And the online version receives over eight million page views a month. Let’s just say this vision carried clout.


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