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An interesting piece of fiction.....!

From: Phil Tetlow <philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 08:41:15 -0500
To: "Ralph R. Swick" <swick@w3.org>, SWBPD <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF0F8AAF05.DA0D875D-ON80256F5B.0047FDB2-85256F5B.003635B6@uk.ibm.com>

I recall that at the last face-to-face we discussed writing a series of
introductory papers on RDF and the Semantic Web for newbies. As such I have
just come across this piece of  'semi-fiction' crystal ball gazing
(http://www.ftrain.com/google_takes_all.html) which appeals to me greatly.
Not only is it amusing, but I think it provides an easy introduction to RDF
and SW for the uninitiated, in parts.

Additionally it includes some stark warnings about the potential abuse of
metadata on the web - Paul Ford's words, not mine... I hope you like it:

"A Semantically Terrifying Future?

The cultural future of the Semantic Web is a tricky one. Privacy is a huge
concern, but too much privacy is unnerving. Remember those taxonomies?
Well, a group of people out of the Cayman Islands came up with a “ghost
taxonomy” - a thesaurus that seemed to be a listing of interconnected yacht
parts for a specific brand of yacht, but in truth the yacht-building
company never existed except on paper - it was a front for a
money-laundering organization with ties to arms and drug smuggling. When
someone said “rigging” they meant high powered automatic rifles. Sailcloth
was cocaine. And an engine was weapons-grade plutonium.

So, you're a small African republic in the midst of a revolution with a
megalomaniac leader, an expatriate Russian scientist in your employ, and 6
billion in heroin profits in your bank account, and you need to buy some
weapons-grade plutonium. Who does it for you? Google Personal Agent, your
web-based pal, ostensibly buying a new engine for your yacht, a little
pricey for $18 million, sure. But you're selling aluminum coffeemakers
through the Home Products Unlimited (Barbados) Ghost Taxonomy - or nearly
pure heroin, you might say - so you'll make up the difference.

Suddenly one of the biggest problems of being a criminal mastermind -
finding a seller who won't sell you out - is gone. With so many sellers,
you can even bargain. Selling plutonium is as smooth and easy and anonymous
(now that you can get Free Republic of Christian Ghana Drop Boxes) as
selling that Martin guitar. Couldn't happen? Some people say it can, which
explains the Mandatory Metadata Review bill on its way through Congress
right now, where all RDF must be referenced to a public taxonomy approved
by a special review board. Like the people say, may you live in interesting
times. Which people? Look it up on Google. !" (PAUL FORD 2002)


Phil Tetlow
Senior Consultant
IBM Business Consulting Services
Mobile. (+44) 7740 923328
Received on Monday, 29 November 2004 13:38:04 UTC

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