Title:Semantic Dissonance: Do We Need (and Do We Understand) the Semantic Web?
Authors:Ross Parry, Jonathan Pratty, Nick Poole
Publication:MW2008: Museums and the Web 2008

How would you piece together the culture web of the future? In the perfectly interoperable, automatically-joined world of 'Web 3.0', some think we need our content connected more closely, more intelligently, with more meaning. But, faced with the initial challenges of Web 2.0, is the UK museum and gallery sector now heading in the right direction strategically, technically and in terms of sustainability? Is the negligible engagement of UK museums with the new wave Web an indicator of more fundamental blockages to come? Can we cope with even bigger steps towards a more unified digital world, an Internet of things? Many people working deep in the digital cultural sector feel there's a growing gap between what's going on out there in the fertile land of Facebook, and what's going on in our arid world of collection descriptions, copyright conundrums and so on.

A wish for more decisive, open-minded developmental connections recently led to the 2006/2007 Semantic Web Think Tank (SWTT) project, a UK research partnership between the Museums Computer Group, MDA, the V&A, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, the 24 Hour Museum and collaborators in the academic world, such as Cambridge University, Leicester University and software sector groups like Box UK. The SWTT project pulled together experts from all sides, talking in six directed sessions which were recorded and published as papers on a blog and in a planned report. The big 'take home' from the SWTT project has not, in the end, been a demonstrator, mash-up or a software widget of some kind. It's the emergence of a suggested roadmap for the development of a joined-up digital cultural sector, to be revealed in more detail in a report published spring/summer 2008.