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RE: SemWeb again

RE:  SemWeb again
On Wed, 2002-04-24 at 17:27, Danny Ayers wrote:
> Today we have the web. Discounting Web Services and the Semantic Web, what
> happens next?
> What is the third way, Simon?

The Web (and the Internet, of course).  Nothing particularly special, no
Apollo project to build wonderful frameworks that solve all problems.

My feeling, and it may well be naive, is that people are still figuring
out what XML is good for, and perhaps more precisely what it is good at.

I have a strong feeling that consortia and companies are trying to
develop ahead of the curve so that they can control the curve.  I have
strong doubts that the approach makes sense given the enormous scope of
the Web and the terms under which it flourishes.

While XML has succeeded in bringing generalized markup to a very large
audience of potential users as a probable ingredient in a wide variety
of solutions, it's only a starting point for the vast amount of
information modeling left to do in the world, not a magic container that
fixes all problems.

A number of people have pointed out that the greatest successes of the
W3C have been more or less standardizations and simplifications of
existing practice.  While I hope SVG will be an exception to that, the
general pattern the discussion suggests is pretty powerful.  I can see
the W3C as a research lab, or I can see it as an organization that
codifies existing practice.  I can't say I'm happy about the thought of
the W3C codifying the best bets of the research lab, especially given
constantly growing impatience.

I'd be happy to say let's just see what happens, have the companies back
off a little on seeking "Standard" status for their conglomerations of
barely proven ideas, and let the Semantic Web folks work in the lab for
a while without worrying too terribly much about what comes out of it. 
RDF is powerful stuff for a lot of people, but I don't feel comfortable
inflicting it on people unless they find their problems demand it.

Maybe "the Web" it isn't the answer to trapping users in proprietary
systems, improving the next quarterly report, or making the history
books as a great thinker.  Still, it seems like a much wiser approach to

I mentioned Agent Orange earlier.  The chemicals in Agent Orange have
another interesting property.  They stimulate plants to grow too
quickly, exhausting them and eventually killing them.  Maybe a little
less stimulation is in order now.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!


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