Tim Berners-Lee looks to life sciences to kick off semantic web

Posted on May 20, 2005 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Computerworld story quotes Tim Berners-Lee:

“At the moment, I see a huge amount of energy from people in life sciences, getting excited by the Semantic Web and what it can do to solve the big-idea problems…

“Maybe we will meet a critical mass in a certain area. The Web, for example, took off in high-energy physics. When we got six high-energy physics Web sites, then it got interesting for physicists to be onboard,” he said. “Similarly, if we could get critical mass in life sciences, if we get a half a dozen or a dozen set of ontologies, the core ones for drug discovery out there, then suddenly the Semantic Web within life sciences would have a critical mass. It’ll snowball much more rapidly and it will be copied. Other areas will realize: Oh it’s worth investing in this.”

One example: BioDash, a Semantic Web prototype of a drug development dashboard, associates diseases, drug progression stages, molecular biology and pathway knowledge for users. A team of representatives from the W3C, IBM, Oracle Corp., University of Colorado and others developed the prototype. It includes a Semantic Web browser connecting information from public sources and chemical libraries with biological entities such as genes, proteins and pathways.

Berners-Lee, who invented key components of the World Wide Web such as HTTP and HTML in the late 1980s, has long envisioned an extension of the organic, unstructured Web. The W3C launched the first projects in the late 1990s, adding metadata to Web pages.

Berners-Lee hopes that life sciences will drive adoption of the Semantic Web, just as high-energy physics drove the early Web.

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