Authors : Luís Miguel Machado, Maria Manuel Borges, Renato Rocha Souza
Wikipedia, as a “social machine”, is a privileged place to observe the collective construction of concepts without central control. Based on Dahlberg’s theory of concept, and anchored in the pragmatism of Hjørland—in which the concepts are socially negotiated meanings—the evolution of the concept of semantic web (SW) was analyzed in the English version of Wikipedia.
An exploratory, descriptive, and qualitative study was designed and we identified 26 different definitions (between 12 July 2001 and 31 December 2017), of which eight are of particular relevance for their duration, with the latter being the two recorded at the end of the analyzed period.
According to them, SW: “is an extension of the web” and “is a Web of Data”; the latter, used as a complementary definition, links to Berners-Lee’s publications. In Wikipedia, the evolution of the SW concept appears to be based on the search for the use of non-technical vocabulary and the control of authority carried out by the debate.
As a space for collective bargaining of meanings, the Wikipedia study may bring relevant contributions to a community’s understanding of a particular concept and how it evolves over time.