semantic web pt.2

As a follow up to the semantic web post, how does ShiftSpace fit into the discussion… ShiftSpace counters the whole discussion because ShiftSpace itself questions the status quo of categorizations online.

ShiftSpace challenges the organization of the web – it is an alternate space in response to the lack of uncommodified public space online – for example ShiftSpace tools like cut-ups and image-swap re-contextualize information and distort meanings as a challenge to traditional organizational systems. Other tools like notes and comments allow users to express their ideas regardless of whether the site they are browsing has designated a space for viewer’s input . While ShiftSpace would benefit from some aspects of linking data (for example, the search for a specific word could pull up all the shifts associated with it) as a rule, ShiftSpace does not assume that you already know what you want before you find it and ShiftSpace exists as a result of an already imposed organization of online data, it exists to question imposed orders.

As Clay Shirky writes: “Many networked projects, including things like business-to-business markets and Web Services, have started with the unobjectionable hypothesis that communication would be easier if everyone described things the same way. From there, it is a short but fatal leap to conclude that a particular brand of unifying description will therefore be broadly and swiftly adopted. (…) There is a list of technologies that are actually political philosophy masquerading as code, a list that includes Xanadu, Freenet, and now the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web’s philosophical argument — the world should make more sense than it does — is hard to argue with. The Semantic Web, with its neat ontologies and its syllogistic logic, is a nice vision. However, like many visions that project future benefits but ignore present costs, it requires too much coordination and too much energy to effect in the real world, where deductive logic is less effective and shared worldview is harder to create than we often want to admit.”

In short, as long as people continue to impose their order on the world, there will continue to be people to question it.


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