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comments on the SW FAQ

From: Lee Feigenbaum <feigenbl@us.ibm.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 12:32:12 -0400
To: public-sweo-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF5FC5CF59.ABBD5AAE-ON852572B5.005398FE-852572B5.005AD6AE@us.ibm.com>
These comments from Lee an Wing. Overall, this is a great collection of 
material about the Semantic Web. There are some things that we think 
should be changed before publishing, however. Our comments follow:

Q: How would you define the main goals of the Semantic Web?

We don't believe that the goal of the Semantic Web is "to get people to 
make their data available to others"; is that the W3C's official position? 
I don't think that that would be a particularly effective way for me to, 
for example, sell people inside IBM on the merits of SW technologies. We 
think the answer to this FAQ is improved by removing that first sentence 
and starting with "The vision..." from the second sentence.

Q: What are the major building blocks of the Semantic Web?

We think that it would be good to mention (and link to) the specific 
technology standards in this answer.

Q: What is the “killer application” for the Semantic Web?

s/"silt //

Q: Isn’t the Semantic Web just research, or does it have industrial 


The sentence:

Companies like Oracle, IBM, Adobe, Software AG, or Northrop Grumman are 
only some of the large corporations that have picked up this technology 
already, are selling tools as well as complete business solutions.

doesn't seem right. Maybe the last part should be its own sentence?

Oracle, IBM, Adobe, Software AG, or Northrop Grumman are only some of the 
large corporations that have picked up this technology already and are 
selling tools as well as complete business solutions.

Q: Does the Semantic Web require users to understand the complicated 
details of formalized knowledge representation?
Q: I have heard that the costs of using formal semantics is high, and that 
makes the Semantic Web unreachable for most. Is that correct?

These two questions seem to basically be the same. They should probably be 
combined. We also think that maybe "users" should be "developers"?

Q: Does the existing Web have to be rebuilt for the Semantic Web? 

We think the question is better phrased as: "How is the Semantic Web 
related to the existing Web?"

Similarly, we'd like to see a question that notes that Semantic Web 
technologies are useful outside of the Web. The very first question hints 
at this when it talks about data integration, etc., but since a tremendous 
amount of early adoption is in enterprises and not necessarily on the Web, 
we think it would be good to acknowledge this...

Q: What is the Semantic Web activity at W3C?

s/regroups/groups together/

Q: What is the Semantic Web activity at W3C?

"URIs" should probably be a link...

Q: Where is the “Web” in the Semantic Web?

We don't think this question fits the answer very well. The answer starts 
off about URIs (so maybe the question should be "How does the Semantic Web 
leverage URIs?") and then in the 2nd paragraph talks about the 
decentralized nature of RDF assertions (which seems to be a separate 
question). Also, perhaps this can be combined with the earlier question 
about the relationship between the current Web and the Semantic Web.

Q: What role do ontologies and/or rules have on the Semantic Web?

Ontologies is a very general term that is meant to “define the concepts 
and relationships used to describe and represent an area of knowledge”.

better as:

Ontologies define the concepts and relationships used to describe and 
represent an area of knowledge.

Q: What is “inference” on the Semantic Web?

s/physically added/explicitly added/

Q: Does the Semantic Web require everybody to subscribe to a single, 
predefined, giant ontology?

We think the last sentence in the first paragraph should be removed.

We think the final sentence of the second paragraph is better as:

Agreement need only be local, but adoption of vocabulary from existing 
ontologies facilitates data sharing and integration.

Q: Do the Semantic Web technologies for Ontology development impose an 
extra burden on the ontology developers?

We think this question is better as: "What is involved in developing an 
ontology using Semantic Web technologies?"

Q: Will W3C be standardizing any particular ontologies?

EARL might be a good example here.

Q: Is there an uptake in public datasets for the Semantic Web? Are there 
major data published for the Semantic Web already?

The question would be better as: "What major public data sets are 
available for the Semantic Web?"

dbpedia should definitely be included here. maybe govtrack to? Mike 
Bergman's recent essay on dbpedia had a great list of RDFdata sets ( 
http://www.mkbergman.com/?p=354 ).

Q: … XML Schemas? What does ontologies buy me that XML and XML Schema 

s/does ontologies/do ontologies/

Q: … folskonomies, microformats, tagging

We have suggested new text for the answer to this question (involves 
splitting it up into two questions also):

... tagging, folksonomies 
 Tagging as emerged as a popular method of categorizing content. Users are 
allowed to attach arbitrary strings to their data items (for example, blog 
entries and photographs). While tagging is easy and somewhat useful, it 
destroys a lot of the semantics of the data. In the Semantic Web, instead 
of tagging data items with strings, they can be related to other 
resources, like ones representing people and places. The relationships are 
very specific, like who took the photograph, who is in the photograph, 
where the photograph was taken. 
 ... microformats 
 Microformats are usually relatively small and simple sets of terms, and 
must be agreed upon by a community. Data models developed within the 
framework of the Semantic Web have the potential to be more expressive, 
rigorous, and formal (and are usually larger). Both can be used to express 
structured data within web pages. In some cases, microformats are 
appropriate because the extra features provided by Semantic Web 
technologies are not necessary. Other cases requiring more rigor will not 
be able to use microformats. 
 Another difference appears in the way microformats are used by programs. 
For example, one has to develop a program well-adapted to a particular 
microformat, to the way it uses, say, the class and title attributes, 
whereas the generality of the Semantic Web tools makes it easier to reuse 
existing tools, eg, a query language. It also becomes difficult (though 
possible) to combine different microformats whereas, combining statements 
from different origins easily belongs to the very essence of the Semantic 
 Note that the GRDDL Working Group has developed a “bridge”... 

Q: Does the Semantic Web require to manually markup all the existing 
web-pages, or to convert all the data in relational databases into RDF?

s/require to manually/require me to manually/

Q: Does the Semantic Web require to put all my data into the public? What 
about my sensitive data?

s/require to put/require me to put/
s/into the public/into the public domain/

Q: What can I read to understand?

The question mght be better as: "How can I learn more about the Semantic 

-- General Comments --

We think that the last section of questions (How do I participate in the 
Semantic Web?) belongs much earlier in the document. We think that the 
technical questions in the section "Questions on RDF, Ontologies, Rules…" 
probably belongs last.

We (well, Lee especially :-) ) were quite surprised that there's only one 
mention of SPARQL in the entire document. (And that's in a parenthetical 
with no explanation, furthermore.) At the very least, SPARQL should be 
mentioned in the early question about the building blocks of the Semantic 
Web, and the SPARQL FAQ ( http://thefigtrees.net/lee/sw/sparql-faq ) 
should be referenced. 

We're curious about the final presentation of this document. We have two 
-- somewhat mutually exclusive -- suggestions. The first is that the FAQ 
could be made into a wiki page. There are a fair amount of small wording 
issues which we did not highlight above that we (or others) could much 
more easily fix if the FAQ were a wiki pgae. Alternatively, if the page is 
not intended to be a wiki, we'd like to suggest using the FAQ system that 
Lee developed for the SPARQL FAQ. The  system for that FAQ has several 
nice properties which are explained here: 
. (The look and feel is easily customizable with CSS, of course.)

Lee & Wing 
Received on Friday, 6 April 2007 16:40:24 UTC

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