Luckily, times have come, where semantic search techniques have found their way to enhance knowledge providing theme portals. Nearly once a week a new knowledge portal with built-in semantic search pops up. They deal with environmental issues, health care, economy etc. These sites are good examples how the vision of a knowledge web is fostered by semantic technologies. Such focused approaches are great showcases for “a” semantic web (even if they are not based on “the” RDF semantic web) in the next few months besides general knowledge portals like Wolfram Alpha.
But the potential of these semantic theme portals is often reduced essentially by their bad usability. You get lost in categories and flags – you get puzzled by pulldowns, mouseovers and embedded hierachies – it’s sometimes a mess out off 1001 functions. You need to understand the underpinning semantic concept to get oriented within these applications – and this is not the goal of the exercise. Search has to be easy.
To show the potential of semantic technologies, we need good examples, which offer good usability. This is a call to everyone to provide such examples.
See my favorites:
NextBio, a platform that enables life science researchers to search, discover, and share knowledge locked within public and proprietary data
reegle, the Search Engine for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
CultureSampo, a Finnish cultural heritage platform for institutional organizations as well as private citizens