The Semantic Web Comes to Social Change

Imagine if when you searched for “oil spill,” you got not only the most relevant links, but also the most relevant videos as well as ways that you can help through online action.  Now imagine that for each video you watched about the oil spill, you were served up more highly relevant media absent the junk we all wade through when searching online.  This is exactly what Link TV, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to do, leveraging the latest in semantic web technology.

“Visual media can change how people think and act.  How we find and use stories is changing” explained Wendy Hanamura VP and General Manager at Link TV, speaking at the recent inVision 2010 conference hosted by See Change.  “But you can’t find the stories you want – the signal to noise ratio is bad.”

Hanamura is working to create a tool,, which helps consumers of media find exactly the stories they want.  The Gates Foundation commissioned to solve the problem of story telling around their work.   It will be focused on telling stories of social progress and challenges, but will be applicable more broadly.

So what? How is this different than a normal Google search?

  • Semantic web makes for more intuitive experience: leverages a linked data model where information is connected in more intuitive ways, based on phrases and concepts, not just words.  Some say the semantic web is the next big thing, and it’s great to see the social sector leading the charge here.
  • Adjust results for higher quality content: Curators can use weightings to adjust and correct for any mistakes the  software may make.
  • Dynamically creates related actions: For every search made, includes links to highly relevant organizations working on the cause where viewers can plug in and actually do something.  Minimizing the friction between interest in an issue and action on it is HUGE.  The easier it is for a viewer to move from fleeting interest to engagement in action, the better.
  • Gives lesser-known media a chance: values quality content regardless of resources allocated to distribution.  It attempts to overcome the fact that poor content, distributed smartly beats out great content with poor distribution every day.  If you’ve ever made a great video and gotten <100 hits on YouTube you’ll know that virality is often a result of careful planning and hard work, rather than just great content, and many organizations don’t have those resources. aims to level the playing field with a focus on story-telling, and a broader definition of acceptable quality of media.
  • Content is highly accessible: ensures all media is downloadable, embeddable, and streamable across all geographies
  • Open source: The code for Viewchange will be public and open for improvements.
  • Personalizable: will allow user to curate their own news page to generate support for their causes

Pretty cool, right?  Does this sound like something you’d use? It’s in private beta right now; head to to sign up for the beta or get more information.

Amie runs Cobblestone Solutions, LLC, a consultancy focusing on business development, marketing, communications and strategy for mission driven companies. Previously, Amie served as Director of Business Development for Viv (a Bay Area environmental start-up), Program Manager for Social Venture Technology Group (a boutique consulting firm focused on measuring social and environmental impact), and Associate Consultant at Bain & Co (a global management consulting firm). She is particularly interested in innovations that reduce waste, altering consumer behavior for good, and leveraging the power of business to solve the climate crisis. You can read more from her on her blog, on, and on JustMeans.

6 responses

  1. Good post! I like the integration of the semantic web, particularly with the explosion of social data. Also check out for consistent data tagging.

  2. Pingback: Webprogrammierung & Design » Blog Archive » Semantic Web Programming
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