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University launches semantic web interface

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The University of Southampton has launched a new semantic web interface, called mSpace, that it says will make searching for information online, and learning about a subject, much easier.

mSPace is a framework that gathers information sources and presents them to the user in a single window. It can potentially be applied to any subject, provided the basic information is available. The researchers say this means users will no longer have to wade through lists of undifferentiated data when researching a subject.

Dr monica schraefel (sic) headed the research project, and put together a demonstration based on a search for information about classical music. She contrasts the semantic web approach with that of Google or iTunes, both of which return long lists of links or tracks.

This is useful up to a point, schraefel argues, but supposing you don't actually know much about classical music: how much would you learn from these searches? The semantic web interface, meanwhile, brings together audio, text, links, and images about the domain, in this case classical music, in a way that people can explore the subject more fully. Wrapping an mSpace around the data allows the user to preview music, learn about the history of each composer and so on.

The researchers have applied the same framework to film (through IMDB.com) and academic research, and say it can be applied to any subject. They have released the framework to SourceForge so that other developers can take the basic ideas further.

There is a demo of the classical music mSpace running here for those with Mozilla based browsers. More information on the project is here. ®

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