The Chatty Web: Emergent Semantics Through Gossiping
This paper describes a novel approach for obtaining semantic interoperability among data sources in a bottom-up, semiautomatic manner without relying on pre-existing, global semantic models. We assume that large amounts of data exist that have been organized and annotated according to local schemas. Seeing semantics as a form of agreement, our approach enables the participating data sources to incrementally develop global agreement in an evolutionary and completely decentralized process that solely relies on pairwise, local interactions: Participants provide translations between schemas they are interested in and can learn about other translations by routing queries (gossiping). To support the participants in assessing the semantic quality of the achieved agreements we develop a formal framework that takes into account both syntactic and semantic criteria. The assessment process is incremental and the quality ratings are adjusted along with the operation of the system. Ultimately, this process results in global agreement, i.e., the semantics that all participants understand. We discuss strategies to efficiently find translations and provide results from a case study to justify our claims. Our approach applies to any system which provides a communication infrastructure (existing websites or databases, decentralized systems, P2P systems) and offers the opportunity to study semantic interoperability as a global phenomenon in a network of information sharing parties.