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Just Semantics

Frustrated Googlers take heart: The next generation of search engine technology, known as the "semantic Web," will be able to mine the Internet for answers to questions as technical as, "Which bilateral treaties govern the textile trade in southeast Asia?" "It is an attempt to change the Web from a tool for browsing to a ...

Frustrated Googlers take heart: The next generation of search engine technology, known as the "semantic Web," will be able to mine the Internet for answers to questions as technical as, "Which bilateral treaties govern the textile trade in southeast Asia?"

"It is an attempt to change the Web from a tool for browsing to a tool for actually finding things out," says Lehigh University computer scientist Jeff Heflin, who is helping develop the new technology. The semantic Web will work by attaching "smart tags" to information posted on the Net. The tags will help computers understand — rather than just recognize — billions of pages of data.

At first, the semantic Web will simply help computers sort through the Internet, producing quicker and more accurate answers. Eventually, computers and devices such as Palm Pilots may be able to make decisions and act on their own. For example, a computer could mine the Internet for airline and hotel prices, pick the best options, and book your next vacation. That would make search engines of the future smarter — and a lot more fun.

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