Semantic Web permathread, iteration n+1 (was Re: InfoWorld agr
On Jun 2, 2004, at 5:12 PM, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote: > > The part I did pay attention to was his position on where > the semantic web is or will be, and on that, I agree. It > occurs to me that the Semantic Web may be Berners-Lee's > SGML/HyTime: <grin> > something that gets long in the tooth and > awkward over time as it awaits a market, then when a > global need for such comes along, someone strips it down to the > basic necessary parts and succeeds wildly. Google is > succeeding wildly based on what humans need. What humans > need the machines to do with a semantic web seems to be > the missing ingredient. > Oddly enough, ERH has written off the Semantic Web as hype at just about the time I'm starting to take it seriously. Not that I disagree with anything in his posting from the WWW conference, just that I'm starting to see what I think were two missing ingredients start to emerge. One is a use case, such as Len alludes to: Google on the public Web is good enough for most purposes that the Semantic Web was envisioned for a few years ago, so why bother? The emerging answer is that semantic integration within organizations is becoming feasible: There is a need for all sorts of enterprise integration -- of data, of services, of applications, of information -- and XML, TCP/IP, HTTP, etc. have finally created the plumbing to allow this at a mechanical level. But Google-like technologies only cut the search space down to a size that a human can manage, they can't do this well enough for a machine to process effectively. Businesses with automated processes that need to know exactly which person, place, or thing they are dealing with need something more reliable than heuristic matches between information in different databases, they need provably correct inferences about their identity. So, there is a real use case in enterprise integration for ontologies that precisely define the meaning of data in terms of other data, and for inferencers that can use this information in a non-trivial way. The other previously missing ingredient is that real organizations have at least something approximating an implicit ontology in their database schema, standard operating procedures, official vocabularies, etc. It is at least arguable that the technologies that have emerged from the semantic web efforts allow all this diverse stuff to be pulled together in a useful way -- ontology editors, inferencing engines, semantic metadata repositories, etc. I'm seeing real success stories in my day job, and a coherent story is starting to be told by a number of vendors, analysts, etc. (I just came across a bunch of stuff at http://www.topquadrant.com/tq_white_papers.htm today that summarizes the situation pretty clearly). So, I don't think that the Semantic Web will replace Google on the public web any more than SOAP/WSDL will replace RESTful interfaces at Amazon.com, but in the more organized and managed environments within enterprises I see these technologies having a real impact. Maybe the Semantic Web vision will end up like other overly ambitions visions such as AI [aim for HAL, get Google] or the space program [aim for the stars, get GPS ] -- the technologies quietly get work done long after the guiding vision is a quaint anachronism. I do agree with the implication that it will be some stripped-down essential subset of the semantic web technologies rather than the complete corpus of academese that survives in the real world, even the more controlled real world behind enterprise firewalls. Unfortunately, I have no idea which subset that will be :-)
PURCHASE STYLUS STUDIO ONLINE TODAY!
Purchasing Stylus Studio from our online shop is Easy, Secure and Value Priced!
Download The World's Best XML IDE!
Accelerate XML development with our award-winning XML IDE - Download a free trial today!
Subscribe in XML format