Instant Messaging is in addition to Web and Email the most popular service on the Internet. With xOperator we present a strategy and implementation which deeply integrates Instant Messaging networks with the Semantic Web. The xOperator concept is based on the idea of creating an overlay network of collaborative information agents on top of social IM networks. It can be queried using a controlled and easily extensible language based on AIML templates. Such a deep integration of semantic technologies and Instant Messaging bears a number of advantages and benefits for users when compared to the separated use of Semantic Web technologies and IM, the most important ones being context awareness as well as provenance and trust.
Inspired by Tim Berners-Lee's Semantic Agent the xOperator lifts personal knowledge exchange to a new level. Imagine sharing exactly the information you want with the people you trust. Need a phone number? Want to know the birthday of your best friends girlfriend (and in a second step where to buy her a present in a store near you)? Do you get tired to tell everybody that you have a new cellphone number? xOperator enables users to share all that knowledge in a trusted network. Built upon the already existing jabber network (secure connections, widely available) an agent running on your pc allows other users to query your RDF-database returning the favor to you.
Millions of people already share their information on Social Network Sites, only for designated friends to see of course. The great drawback is though that actually, they are helping to maintain a great database for the companies offering these services. Once the Semantic Web will be fully implemented it might also enable the possibility to unify personal information about an individual from different sources. xOperator keeps all data on your computer, giving you the choice what to share with whom and best of all it can't take away that choice by changing the terms and conditions.
Despite all this ideology, xOperator will be, surely, once it exists, a very cool thing to use, which is to say, we are very exited ourselves, what uses it can be put to.
xOperator tries to create a decentralized network of trust. Information is shared in the form of resources, which can be anything (even the information that you are selling your old washing machine). In a later stage it enables you to find friends of friends like centralized services, can already. At the end of the road, xOperator might even be able to find the best product for you without the normally necessary tedious internet research. Companies will be able to offer semantic annotated information about their products, giving the customer a new way of yet unknown price transparency.