Re: A bit of bomb throwing....

From: Zack Rosen <>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 21:00:43 -0800

> [Danny]
> As Bruce, I'll concede that there is some merit in the arguments in
> your blog post, but I think your title/conclusion ("Semantic web
> research isn't working") is wide of the mark. Sure, some research is
> relatively 'pure', away from practical implementation and commercial
> applications. But not only is there plenty of down-to-earth research
> going on in academia, there is a lot of research happening outside of
> academia, with both corporate initiatives and individual hackers.

Got urls?

> I'm amused by the way you apply both the "pie in the sky" and
> "widgets" criticism of the SIMILE projects, it's like "these people
> will never make anything that will fly and the food they serve on
> transatlantic flights is awful...".

I'm a jerkface, certainly.

> I'm not sure how you arrived at the view of these tools as "side
> hacks". What the Semantic Web has to offer depends in large part on
> the "Web" part, network effect. Were the hundred or so HTTP clients
> and servers that were around say 14 (?) years ago really a "full web
> implementation"?
> Ok, there are qualitative differences in this point of view with SW
> compared to WWW - a whole range of SW-compatible individual
> implementations are possible from simple static text RDF/XML files
> through to OWL inferencing models. In isolation they will only give a
> taste. But any individual web page or service only gives a taste of
> what the web has to offer.

The WWW in it's conception offered unique critical functionality.
Semantic web research projects so far have not come close to doing
this. Again, I don't see this happening until the gap between early
adopters and the 'research community' is closed. The cheapest and
most straightforward way to do this is to have research applications
be developed on adopted open-source web application platforms in real-
world use cases.

>> I care deeply about the problem space. The issue is that it is
>> simply too
>> costly to 'jump on board' at the moment and I don't see that
>> changing any
>> time soon. Consider me an overly eager early adopter. I
>> represent a number
>> of organizations with reasonable development budgets that would be
>> incredibly well served by semantic technologies but the tools are
>> simply out
>> of reach. Why is this?
> Costly in what sense? There is a large range of tools available open
> source, most of them backed by active community support. The biggest
> cost I'm aware of is in getting developers familiar with the
> technologies (and managers to understand the benefits!). But that cost
> is to be expected, virtually identical adoption issues were there in
> the early days of the web.

Got url's?

> This isn't so much leap-frog as much as having an approximate roadmap
> for enhancing the web. On the map are places in the distance as well
> as immediately in front.
> Your generalisation of "researchers" is pointing in a different
> direction to the reality. A large proportion of Semantic Web R&D is
> happening with an eye on developments elsewhere on the web. Because
> the SW is designed to build on the current web. What TimBL said wasn't
> "lets do it over", more "let's add these missing bits".

The semantic web certainly is evolutionary but I can't see how it
could be construed as anything but a huge leap from the assumptions
and models of the web as-is. When created the semantic web will at
the very least destroy and recreate business models, turn just about
every web application into a scrap-heap, and significantly alter the
ecology of web platform technologies.

> In fact there's clear evidence of this in the examples you quote,
> because Semantic Web researchers *are* collaborating with the teams
> pursuing these projects. If you look at the microformats list archives
> you will see there has been significant input from people active in
> the Semantic Web community.
> I personally have been working with the Structured Blogging folks on
> Semantic Web compatibility - check the source of an SB entry, e.g.
> - you will find the following :
> xmlns:data-view=""
> data-view:interpreter="
> interpreter.xsl"
> Like most of the SB initiative this is experimental, but here a
> mapping is provided from the SB information to the Semantic Web.

I am sure collaboration is happing at an individual level but it
certainly isn't happening at an institutional level. Why not?

> Oh, go on, one last point - you say:
> [[
> The technologies are generally not useful unless they are adopted and
> implemented on a large scale and people are not willing to invest in
> implementing them unless they are useful.
> ]]
> Even without the Semantic Web, the technologies can be very useful for
> a wide range of tasks, even on a very small scale.

Can you elaborate on this?

Received on Tue Jan 17 2006 - 05:00:17 EST

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