In the context of recent debates about the ‘data deluge’ and the future of empirical sociology,this article turns attention to current activities aimed at achieving far-reaching transformations to the World Wide Web. The emergent ‘Semantic Web’ has received little attention in sociology, despite its potentially profound consequences for data. In response to more general recent calls for a critical politics of data we focus our enquiry as follows: first, we explore how sociological analysis of the artefacts and tools that are currently being developed to build a Semantic Web helps us to uncover the potential effects of this ‘next generation’ web on knowledge, data and expertise; and second we consider what a Semantic Web might offer to sociological research. We conclude by considering some implications of multidisciplinary engagement with the Web for the future of sociology.
- digital data, linked data, semantic web, sociology, world wide web