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Semantic web, lolcat and Japan

June 18, 2009

Yet_another_lolcatSemantic web has different meanings for different people – isn’t it funny in itself- and these mainly fall in two categories:

– The data web , enabling to connect data from various applications and databases
– The Meaning web, an uber-categorisation of content so that machines and humans can search better,  connect the dots,  and overall understand better.

There is no question that the data web is on its way and will provide huge benefits.

When it comes to meaning, well, that’s a different story which brings me back to the title of this post: lolcat

Lolcat is an amazing phenomena. It’s being invented by the cat owners community (kudos for being the most creative community on the web). Members of the community started to exchange pictures of their cat along with funny catch phrases in broken English and in the process of doing this, the community just invented a new language, referred to as lolspeak. The flag web site is icanhascheesburger. Bear with me, this is something:  1M unique visitors a month,  top 2500 in Alexa, i.e more popular than ford.com and in the same ball park as intuit.com.

Not all communities are that creative and this is very instructive.

In the old days, web 1.0, people wrote for the general public. They wanted to be understood by as many people as possible and appeal to a broad audience. Time has changed; the web is now fragmented in a myriad of communities who have different agendas.

I don’t know about you but I can barely read my kids msn messages. It’s not that they are lazy (at least I hope), they just want to build their own virtual gated community. People initially used different infrastructures for this (myspace for musicians, facebook for college students) but as infrastructures grow,  open, interconnect  (social data in the cloud, isn’t that scary ?) what’s left is language.  Kids can’t hide on Facebook anymore. ;-).

This is as old as mankind and reminds me of a story I read on the origin of Hiragana and Katakana explaining that in the old Japan, women and men were writing with different characters. How sophisticated !

So the rise of communities is driving people to write no longer (just) to be understood, but to be differentiated and build some form of new cultures.

Bottom line is that the English dictionary is obsolete and this is a major challenge for the semantic web ( meaning flavor).

As a conclusion, one last message to brands marketers in the pet industry:

if u herrz me, u shud buy keywurdz frum adwurdz. teh cats shur wuld lov it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2009 8:14 pm

    Interesting analysis, especially when you think about how fast and often vernacular changes and is indexed. Ideally, this is where computing in the cloud can not only filter out semantic truths, but organize data streams in such a way that the intent or idea is not lost.

    Your friend,

    Gunther

  2. June 18, 2009 10:10 pm

    I agree that children are the ones to “raise an eyebrow” about, when their activity is distributed via a social data cloud. They won’t realize it initially, but the weird part is they will most likely start to accept it as “normal” later. The Social Data Cloud will certainly be a part of humanity’s future.

    Thanks for helping me think this through!

    Will M AF/ SocialTimes

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