Friday, August 27, 2010

Semantic progress

Yesterday Philip Sheldrake gave a talk to the Chartered Institute of Public Relation Social Media gathering (anyone can come - it costs £10 and is at 5pm every Thursday) on the semantic web. It was excellent and you can access it here.

Among the things he showed us was the work of Philipp Heim (University of Stuttgart), Steffen Lohmann (Carlos III University of Madrid), Timo Stegemann (University of Duisburg-Essen).
They have taken existing structured data to allow you to go and find relationships between two entities (I chose to find the relationship between Nick Clegg and David Cameron on this page).

The work they have done is important and uses existing structured data sets.

At Klea Global my colleague Girish has been working towards a way of creating structured data sets using Natural Language Programming including LSI to build (RDF) structures on the fly from content derived from newspapers, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.

He already has gone quite a long way and you can see an example of how it is possible to create this process with some very new and pretty smart tools. One of which is available for you to try here.

OK, so what is this for, and why is it relevant to Public Relations.

I guess the secret is in the second part of the name of our profession: relations.

Using these capabilities, we can find out all manner of relationships between two entities (subject - object). When, using the Semantic Web, these relationships make sense, all this data will be ever more powerful.

To get some idea of how much data, here is another 'toy' you can play with from Klea Global labs (and yes, I have started to put it all in one place at last): Track This Now. Using this free 'search and scope presence' software, you will see that an amazing amount of information is accumulating about your company, client, university etc.

Knowing how much there is, and knowing that most of what is said online about organisation does not come from the company or traditional media is only half the battle. There is so much accumulating out there that we are overwhelmed.

If only we could find out what the relationships were between all those tweets and press articles, we would have some chance of influencing them, building up huge SEO for clients and lots of other marvellous things. Worry not... salvation is at hand.

These are very early days for these developments to bear fruit for the PR industry but next year they will be quite astonishing. We already know how to do it and in less than a year will be doing it.

This is so exciting for our industry and my only regret is that we don't have a single university in the UK with a capability to do this sort of research.