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Re: Myths of the Semantic Web - Popular Misconceptions for Why it Won't Work

From: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 18:09:48 +0100
Message-ID: <1f2ed5cd0611090909k7ffa7092j65d4fba34fec67d6@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Paul Walsh, Segala" <paulwalsh@segala.com>
Cc: public-sweo-ig@w3.org

On 09/11/06, Paul Walsh, Segala <paulwalsh@segala.com> wrote:

I like the bullet points a lot, but just on this:

> RDF = Metadata

Although RDF has roots in metadata, and personally believe it is a key
route for Semantic Web adoption, this may be a risky equivalence to
draw. Historically, to some extent at least the connection has
contributed to negative notions of RDF.

I think amongst a large proportion of web developers metadata became
associated with the HTML meta tags, typically used for description and
keywords. These had a phase of popularity (for inflating search engine
rankings) then rejection (because the search engines stopped using

The term's nadir on the web probably followed Cory Doctorow's
widely-read "Metacrap" piece [1]. (While digging out the link for that
I noticed it has a page on Wikipedia [2] which mentions mentions the
semantic web - the overall impression isn't exactly positive).

But more recently, as Bill deHora points out [3], with many of the
vogue technologies like Wikis, RSS and tagging, for the (*cough*)
modern developer "it's hard to ignore the benefits of metadata".

So although metadata may be a horse with significantly improved form,
I'm grateful that there are other runners to back. One in particular
that seems to help people grok the ideas is that of data in the
traditional SQL/relational sense. Elevator pitch something like: The
Semantic Web is a globally distributed database built on the Web which
uses URIs for keys. (That's a condensed version of Richard Cyganiak's
pitch [4], which is very neat but wouldn't actually help much in
explaining the stuff to my mother...).


[1] http://www.well.com/~doctorow/metacrap.htm
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacrap
[3] http://www.dehora.net/journal/2005/01/deprecating_metacrap.html
[4] http://dowhatimean.net/2006/10/open-data-and-the-semantic-web


Received on Thursday, 9 November 2006 17:10:02 UTC

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