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Conference Proceeding

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Relationship Web takes us from "which document" could have information I need to "what's in the resources" that gives me the insight and knowledge I need for decision making. Dr. Vannevar Bush outlined his vision for Memex in a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article [1]. Describing how the human brain navigates an information space in what he called trailblazing, Dr. Bush said, "It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain." Now that we can label content to associate semantics (meaning) to data and build information processing in which relationships rather than keywords and entities play the central role, the possibility of realizing the Memex vision seems tantalizingly close. Although through much of the recent past attention has been on search, finding a document is seldom the end goal of a human activity. Aligned with the Memex vision, human need for information is related to a desire and need for information processing that goes well beyond delivering a list of documents that matches the keywords or even the implied intent. Human information seeking is likely to be driven by more demanding activities such as interaction and entertainment, finding associations and answers, performing analysis, gaining insights, or making decisions. The Memex vision provides an interesting paradigm for supporting these objectives. Changing the computing paradigm to one that focuses on relationships is the key to realizing the Memex vision. We term our realization of Memex Relationship Web. In past work we observed the changing focus from documents to entities to relationships. We also investigated a broad variety of issues related to modeling, validating, discovering, and exploiting the many types of relationships between entities in content [2]. The first result of these efforts was the concept of Metadata Reference Links (MREFs), which proposed associating semantic metadata with hypertext links [3]. MREF faced several limitations, but recent significant advances resulting from research, standards, and technology development associated with Semantic Web provide building blocks for realizing the Relationship Web. We outline below some recent relationship-centric research to which we have had the opportunity to contribute, at the same time acknowledging extensive work in each area by many researchers and practitioners.


Presented at the SemGrail 2007, Redmond, WA, June 21-22, 2007.

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SemGrail2007-Amit-Sheth.pdf (1618 kB)
PowerPoint Slides of Presentation