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Re: "State of the Semantic Web" - personal opinions?

From: Paul Tyson <phtyson@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 22:11:58 -0500
Message-ID: <4869A07E.7030902@sbcglobal.net>
To: "semantic-web@w3.org" <semantic-web@w3.org>

What a beautiful invitation, Danny!

 From my sliver view inside a typical American corporation, semantic web 
has a long road ahead.  No business man will pay $1.00 for a system that 
will tell him that his mother's sister is his aunt, which is about all 
that SemWeb101 shows you.  But show him an application that will tell 
him if his billion-dollar aircraft design meets all requirements, and 
you'll be in for some money.

As with all standards that enable information owners to control their 
information, the semantic web profit model is elusive.  When tools for 
knowledge representation and exchange again become commodities (as they 
were for most of the Gutenberg age), the market will encourage people to 
compete on their ability to think and provide value, instead of just 
charging license fees for locking up your enterprise data.  On the other 
hand, since semantic web content is, ultimately, the distilled product 
of thinking, maybe license fees won't go away, because it is often 
easier to pay than to think.

The semantic web is what we have all been groping for since the first 
computer program was written.  We didn't want text processors; we wanted 
thought recording and retrieval tools.  We didn't want computer-aided 
drafting programs; we wanted to create models from our imagination.  But 
we are still in the firm grip of paradigms meant to encode letters and 
lines in computer memory.  These paradigms are huge sea anchors holding 
back progress of the semantic web; and they are made more powerful by 
the business investment (and inertia) in applications that embody those 

Semantic web is a tough sell.  The business man, nor the common man in 
the street, really doesn't care how the application is built, as long as 
it meets his needs.  Returns on semantic web investments will be slow 
and diffuse.  The semantic web is like the proverbial elephant--a lot of 
different things, not the same to everyone.  Part of it is patched on to 
the old web to provide additional functionality; part of it is webified 
AI; part of it is just common sense (universal identifiers for 
resources? what a concept!); part of it is greenfield technology.  So 
what are you selling, and to whom?

Good luck with your article. I look forward to reading it.


Danny Ayers wrote:
> In brief, some time soon I'm planning to do a moderately comprehensive, 
> fairly non-technical write-up on this topic ...
Received on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 03:11:47 UTC

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