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SWEO - Thoughts, Not Slides

From: David Provost <dprovost@metatomix.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 16:45:36 -0500
To: "public-sweo-ig@w3.org" <public-sweo-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C368BFB1.147B%dprovost@metatomix.com>
All -

I've been thinking and working on my presentation ideas and seem to be
ending up with questions and thoughts, not slides. My thoughts are still
gelling, but off the top of my head (all assuming a business/CIO/CTO

1. Businesses buy solutions to problems. They only buy technologies if they
plan to use them to either solve problems or build solutions for same.
(Companies don't buy Visual Basic or C, they buy MS Office.)

2. There is no reward for buying the latest technology for its own sake.
There is a very tangible reward for buying things that are better, faster,
cheaper, more flexible/adaptable, etc. As a matter of fact, some might argue
toward buying older, more proven technologies that are more stable.

3. Since 2003 I've seen presentations from engineers and from business
people (who are painfully lacking in background) that focus more on >how< a
problem is solved rather than how the solution is >so much better< than
what's presently available - which leads to...

4. Economists use the term "substitute." An example is "My old car is a fine
substitute for a new car." Separately, Gallium Arsenide is an excellent
basis for microchips. Silicon hasn't been widely displaced because it
continues to get better and cheaper (Wikipedia does a great job of
summarizing this.) I believe there are substitutes for a lot of what
Semantic technology can do and that itıs fair to say these substitutes may
or may not be better in closed- vs. open-world environments. (The idea of
data warehouses sounds great, but in practice, their creation, maintenance,
and usefulness can leave a lot to be desired.)

This leads to a central point in my thinking: When Web adoption became
mainstream, many corporations were caught severely lacking. (I believe the
decision to adopt the Web was simpler ­ you needed a computer, a modem, a
browser, a few other basic ingredients and you were in business.) Aside from
selling specific solutions to specific problems, how can corporations be
convinced to broadly invest in a non-proprietary technology now, so that
they aren't left behind again? Or is the correct approach to highlight
solutions first, and mention that Semantic technology powers them second?
Perhaps a starting point is to pose the question ³What are the most mature
aspects of the Semantic Web and what problems are these aspects best suited
to solving?²

Iıve attached a presentation that portrays corporate IT portfolios as an
investment portfolio, which takes the form of a pyramid. The most risky
investments are at the top, which means that only a small amount of money is
being put at risk. Thoughts on the usefulness of this perspective might be

5. All this leads me to identify those things that SemWeb technology relies
on as its main claims: Data integration, application interoperation,
reasoning, and the fact that itıs Web based. My approach to SWEO would be to
ask "Why is a SemWeb approach to these things better than existing
substitutes?" Iım convinced these points can be broken down in convincing
fashion, itıs just that I think Iım realizing I need to discuss these
issues/questions, not assert a position.

Iım looking forward to discussing these points on tomorrowıs SWEO conference


David Provost
Product Manager, Platform
Metatomix, Inc.
3 Allied Drive, Ste 210
Dedham, MA 02026

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Received on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 21:46:47 UTC

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