Facebook’s recent acquisition of a very small semantic technology company has given me pause to reflect on the future of the semantic Web and on the next, predictable steps: the more I think about it, the more likely it is that the first one who will make a significant move will be a real player like Facebook.
By now, Facebook is a a kind of parallel Web universe, with its own content, its own search functions, applications and games… It has content of every type and of every quality (normal for a social network) and it is for this reason that it is absolutely necessary to render that content more useful in an effective and simple way.
Facebook is the king of the social networks, and by now has more users than Google, but nobody really knows what Facebook really has, exactly. So, a lot of valuable information remains practically inaccessible to its own users (along with so many things that are, frankly, completely useless and irrelevant that rightly remain in oblivion.)
Therefore, I believe that Facebook is in a privileged position to start applying semantic technology to its own content, also because even just a small improvement applied to such an enormous amount of information could have an absolutely extraordinary domino effect. Besides, FB does not have to be in agreement with anyone regarding formats, ontologies, tags, concepts, etc. because it can define its own standards and impose them on its users.
With a gradual, focused process on the simpler things, the results could be interesting and immediately evident for its users: in the next months, we will see if this prediction becomes true. Semantic technology is a big trend, and a lot of big companies who, until now were stuck with previous technology, have started to think about what semantic technology can actually do.