Friday, January 9, 2009

The Syntactic, Semantic and Pragmatic Web

During some thesis research I came across an interesting parallel between semiotics – a key part of communications studies – and the development of the web.

Semiotics is the study of sign systems and can be divided up into syntax, semantics, and pragmatics:

“Syntax deals with the structure of symbols, semantics with their meanings, and pragmatics with their contexts of usage. These terms were picked up by the early logicians and computer scientists and, especially the first two, are frequently the objects of attention in computer science.” Munindar P. Singh

The development of the web – a symbolic system itself – seems to be developing in a similar fashion:

The syntax (structural codes) are relatively established in the original Syntactic Web, semantics (meaning creation) in the web is still immature – particularly in regard to connecting and producing meaning from data. However, the Semantic Web is under development and there is increasing interest in the idea of the Pragmatic Web (which I have previously blogged about).

If you would like to read a more in depth article I wrote around this subject please click here.