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Google acquires Metaweb

July 17, 2010

Yesterday, Metaweb announced that it has been acquired by Google.

Now this is very significant news because Google clearly shows that it no longer ignores the whole web 3.0 aka Semantic Web or Linked Open Data movement.

Up till now it seemed that they were not interested in these developments, which started early in this decade. Apart from a minimal exercise with “rich snippets” (normally known as microformats or the official w3c standard RDFa) they largely ignored the parts of the industry which were building on Semweb standards. Now, they get a jump start in this space with Metaweb and it’s flagship product, Freebase.

As you may know, Freebase is a Linked Data index of the web’s knowledge. This model of indexing the web is radically different from Google’s traditional approach; because everything is based on community efforts (DBPedia is a central source) and well defined open standards, there is no “secret sauce” involved – and hence no competitive advantage – which the well kept business secret of Page Rank provided until now. From this perspective, Google has a huge benefit by a dis-organized web of documents and so no incentive to contribute to any Linked Open Data standards.

At one hand this competitive advantage was diminishing because challengers like Bing are catching up with very similar quality web search results. At the other hand the Linked Data web is getting serious traction with the publication and rapid adoption of Facebook’s Open Graph protocol (and continued support form parties such as Yahoo!).

So all in all this is a very logical step for Google to take, and likely something they were planning for already, just waiting for the right time to hit and spend some pocket money.

OK, fine you’ll ask, but what has this to do with Augmented Reality?

Not very much on first sight, but I am convinced that Semantic Web technologies and Social Graph data will soon play a huge role in the evolution of Augmented Reality, see my blog post earlier this year: The Path to the Future of AR is Open.

For now, watch the video below for an excellent explanation about the benefits of Linked Data (Source: Metaweb’s blog).

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