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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Adaptive Blue and the Semantic Web

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Semantic Web.  Implicit Web.  Web 3.0.  Lot’s of happy new buzz phrases being tossed about.  Of course, the academic one is “semantic web” – all the rest are made up trendy things. 

While there are plenty of abstract ideas about this, and lots more simple instantiations that are tiny pieces of the concept, Alex Iskold of Adaptive Blue is going after the whole enchilada in a way even my father would enjoy.  I’ve known Alex for a while via his writing and my small investment in Adaptive Blue and I love the way his brain works around a variety of topics, including The New Rules of Technology VC.

Jennifer Zaino interviewed Alex the other day in an article titled The Semantic Curmudgeon and nailed a bunch of stuff.  If this topic interests you, it’s a good read.

The Semantic Web Can Be Your Friend

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Alex Iskold, the founder and creator of Adaptive Blue, has a long and helpful post up titled Semantic Web: Difficulties with the Classic ApproachI have a small investment in Adaptive Blue (Union Square Ventures is the lead investor), love what Alex is up to, and relish anything that comes out of his brain.

W3C Semantic Web Layer Cake (outdated)One of my investment themes for the past 24 months has been in an area I’ve been calling “The Implicit Web.”  Adaptive Blue is in this theme, as are companies like Lijit, Me.dium, and TrustPlus.  Read Alex’s post for a classical definition of the problem (including his post The Road to the Semantic Web.)  Or feel free to wallow around Wikipedia’s description (including a couple of great examples and lots of acronyms and a nice picture of the W3C Semantic Web Layer Cake.)

I have a simple way of describing what I mean by Implicit Web.  The data on the web is a complete mess and getting worse every millisecond.  While I can go to Google and type something into a little box that helps me find stuff, I want “my compute infrastructure” to get smarter about what I care about, who I trust, what information I want more of (or less of), and to help me discover new relevant stuff – automagically.  These are computers after all – they should be able to figure this out for me – based on what I’ve done (and what people I trust have done.)

Easy concept.  Really hard problem.  Really really hard problem.  With many different dimensions.  And huge implications over a long period of time (since the underlying infrastructure – “the web” – will just continue to get more and more complex every – er – millisecond.)

Part of the way I think through stuff like this is I try to hang around, talk to, challenge, and learn from the smartest people I can find.  I also “do stuff” – include using different products and technologies to address my own special problems.  A year ago a guy named Eric Norlin suggested that we do a conference to tackle this – Eric’s been working on it since and in November we’ll have the Defrag Conference in Denver for two days.  I’m not a conference guy but I’ve learned a ton from watching Eric put this together (and he’s a master at it.)  He’s got his own point of view about what’s important and what’s not – his latest post The devil is in the details hits a lot of little things that impact the quality of the experience at a conference.  If you are interested in the semantic web, the implicit web, or just hanging out with a collection of really smart people, come play with us.  Oh – and if you are a Facebook guy – check out the new Facebook “Defrag Connector” to find out if any of your friends are going (hmm – finding out automagically in advance if any of my friends are going to a conference by clicking on a button – how novel!)

While I’m pimping things I’m involved in, Lijit just did a new release with excellent new stats and lots of little bubbles everywhere.  If you are a blogger and still haven’t installed Lijit as your search engine, do your readers a favor and try it.  If you are a data junkie like me, you’ll love it.  If you are not a data junkie, still install it since your readers will love it.

Stats Detail

Finally, in an attempt to “make the Internet the Safest Place on Earth”, my long time friend (and Feld Technologies employee #3) Shawn Broderick has launched TrustPlus.  I doubt anyone will remember the TLA that I was using to refer to the Implicit Web before I figured out that “Implicit Web” was a good phrase – but TrustPlus is the “T” in TAR.  Take a look at TrustPlus and help Shawn help you.

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