On the surface, Twine looks a lot like many other social-networking applications: users make connections, share, and discuss information, and the artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing built into the website is not immediately obvious. “The Semantic Web is a technology that’s useful. It’s a means to an end, not an end in itself,” says Spivack. “What we’re doing with this release and going forward is, we’re talking about what you can use Twine for, and the fact that it’s powered by the Semantic Web is a detail for geeks.”
But Jim Hendler, a professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a member of Twine’s advisory board, says that Semantic Web technologies can set Twine apart from other social-networking sites. This could be true, so long as users learn to take advantage of those technologies by paying attention to recommendations and following the threads that Twine offers them. Users could easily miss this, however, by simply throwing bookmarks into Twine without getting involved in public twines or connecting to other users.
It would be nice to be able to use Twine for a few more specialized purposes. For example, it seems ideal for finding events related to areas of interest–indie rock bands playing in Boston, for example. But the current interface deals awkwardly with dates. A Twine calendar, which categorizes events intelligently, would be a logical extension of the service. Spivack says that such a feature, as well as further developments, are on the way. As these arrive, and as the company adds more ways to classify data, the real value of the Semantic Web could well start to surface.