Re: A bit of bomb throwing....

From: Zack Rosen <>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 20:40:40 -0800

On Jan 15, 2006, at 3:03 PM, Prokopp, Christian wrote:

> _at_Zack:
> You are making valid points but I think also contradicting
> yourself. On
> the one hand you ask the researches to come down from their ivory
> tower
> and meet the practical needs and on the other you complain that when
> they do (like SIMILE) that it is not the 101% semantic web you would
> like it to be. Some of your arguments also apply to any new technology
> (e.g. you could have made all your barrier points about the WWW too).
> I was very pleasantly surprised when I cam across SIMILE - a realistic
> approach to bring semantic web technologies to the masses and on top
> added some documentation and usability consideration. It also orients
> itself at a real world use case so I really have trouble following all
> your points. Maybe you picked the wrong project for your argument ;o)
> No hard feelings but I strongly disagree although in general I could
> agree with some points in your analysis but just not with SIMILE.

SIMILE definitely is a positive step forward, and you are right, I am
being overly harsh and picking a fight with the wrong crowd. That
said I think there is still an impossibly wide gap between semantic
web research and the earliest adopters who wish to employ the
technologies in 'real-world' applications. My goal in approaching
this community is to asses what it will take to close that gap.

My understanding is that the intent of SIMILE is to create user-
facing applications that demonstrate semantic web technology. But
'user-facing' simply does not equate to 'real-world'. It is pretty
easy to create a user-facing application that is of no real-world
practical use (and indeed it seems SIMILE has created quite a few).
This is fine in the context of academia and standard academic
research, but the goals of the semantic web are extremely ambitious,
and I am convinced this approach simply isn't going to produce
results quick enough. As long as research is pursued under the
assumptions that the semantic web will be created within a university
a whole universe of potential contributers and adopters that could be
leveraged towards their goals will be ignored. Consider me one of
the more outspoken and crankier of these potential contributors.

The WWW was born on the frontier of the internet and helped catalyzed
it's tremendous inception. But it's a different landscape today.
The semantic web has a trillion dollar legacy problem.

1990: When the WWW was created it offered critical and unique
functionality in a new and creative environment. It was ingenious,
relatively simple to implement, and the only game in town. Down the
mountain the little snowball went - JPL puts up pictures of
asteroids, Compuserve signs up some customers, Netscape IPO's, Ebay
revolutionizes junk sales, Google monetizes search and voilą the web
is born.

2006: The web works. Billions (if not trillions) have been invested
in platform technologies such as LAMP, JSP, .NET and wells of
innovation are being tapped more quickly than ever. Meanwhile up
atop the hill Universities and far sighted corporate research
vehicles have spent eight years perfecting their new snowball are
apparently stuck waiting for others to push it down the hill for
them. But it simply isn't happening yet. Structured data
interchange technologies for consumers on the web (RSS) appear to
steadily advance at speed at which Dave Winers beard grows (http:// while simple-to-implement / simple-to-
understand web-service data interchange techniques (REST, SOAP, etc.)
solve the immediate 'enterprise' needs leaving no immediate critical
functionality path for semantic web technologies to toboggan down.

The semantic web has a well articulated vision, it has a proven
leader, it has it's pick of incubating vehicle, but what it is
desperately is lacking is a workable pathway for adoption. I firmly
believe one exists.

Received on Tue Jan 17 2006 - 04:40:13 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Thu Aug 09 2012 - 16:39:18 EDT