Getting closer to the Semantic Web

With almost little fan-fair, Bing, Google and Yahoo announced earlier this month that they had partnered with each other to introduce structured data markup for web pages.

For years, techies have been seeking to introduce technologies that will enable a 'Semantic Web'. Most of these efforts have had little success. Wikipedia describes why the Semantic Web is important:
The main purpose of the Semantic Web is driving the evolution of the current Web by allowing users to use it to its full potential, thus allowing them to find, share, and combine information more easily. Humans are capable of using the Web to carry out tasks such as finding the Irish word for "folder," reserving a library book, and searching for a low price for a DVD. However, machines cannot accomplish all of these tasks without human direction, because web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of information that can be interpreted by machines, so machines can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.
The Bing-Google-Yahoo partnership could be the first tangible, baby step towards creating the Semantic Web.

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