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

From: Yihong Ding <ding@cs.byu.edu>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 12:46:10 -0600
Message-ID: <8cbe5b450806301146s53aa56b5k92f648e174b5251a@mail.gmail.com>
To: adasal <adam.saltiel@gmail.com>
Cc: "Danny Ayers" <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, "semantic-web@w3.org" <semantic-web@w3.org>, "Ivan Herman" <ivan@w3.org>, "Paul Miller" <Paul.Miller@talis.com>, "adam lindemann" <adlin@mindfund.com>
Hi Adam,

Sure, here comes another Adam.  ;-)  I am enjoyed talking with Adams.

I agree, the list mentioned by Danny is a little bit narrowed to OWL, RDF,
etc. that are basically the W3C interpretation of Semantic Web. Indeed,
however, what the real Semantic Web might become is greater than the
combination of these technologies.TBL proposed a vision; W3C converts the
vision to a list of technologies.  But it does not mean that the vision of
Semantic Web equals to these technologies. We may have varied ways to
approach the same goal. When we eventually reach the reality of Semantic
Web, it is possible for us to find that it is just not the same as what we
think. But the result, however, just perfectly fulfills the original vision
of the Semantic Web.

It is valuable to share more on how OWL, RDF, SPARQL, etc may reshape the
Web. And I think it might be Danny's original plot of the article. As I want
to emphasize, however, people in Web industry may not be so interested in
them since we have already heard too much. I would not doubt that Danny
would bring some fresh thoughts (as he always does). The problem is,
however, no matter how much new fresh thoughts he brings to the table, it is
still in the standard frame of academic Semantic Web. For Web industry, the
ideal academic Semantic Web infrastructure is still too far aways to catch.
What they really would be interested is the way to approach the vision.
Especially, where is the connection between "semantics" and "money"? The
discussion of "mind asset" is actually about this issue.


On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 11:41 AM, adasal <adam.saltiel@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Yihong,
> I actually found this interesting.
> You now have three Adams to contend with: Adam Lindemann, Adam Smith and
> myself. I haven't read the first two, but I think your take on Adam Smith is
> novel.
> Without reading Adam Lindemann this sounds almost mystical.
> I find it interesting that the range of responses so far elicited by Danny
> haven't been more directly to the point which is where, from quite a long
> list, is sewweb being used, where is it at?
> Speaking for myself I'm not too keen on being guided through a 'new
> transition' via the Semantic Web, not even sure I would be able to be so
> guided.
> But I do think data can be repurposed and remodelled. As with any expensive
> technology, the issue is will people and companies bother in large numbers.
> And what Danny is talking about is quite narrow, it is the use of OWL and
> closely associated technologies not, for instance, a new hypothetical new
> chip from Intel that covers 60% functionality, is 5% of cost but is very
> costly to customise. I say this because we don't know that such a thing is
> not round the corner which would render much semweb activity redundant.
> It is in the context of these sorts of risks that Danny is asking his
> questions.
> I have to say I consider the risks great, the business argument slight.
> What it all boils down to is whether there is a cheaper way of achieving
> more.
> I am interested in others responses to this.
> Adam
> 2008/6/30 Yihong Ding <ding@cs.byu.edu>:
> Danny,
>> thank you for your effort, I am looking forward to reading your article
>> (or series of articles) at Nodalities.
>> In person, I would like to suggest a topic on how we may predict the
>> realization of Semantic Web in terms of Web evolution. Besides all the
>> technological changes, I believe that there is another "invisible hand" that
>> lead the evolutionary progress of World Wide Web. In the realm of economy,
>> the "invisible hand" represents the general willingness of free market
>> beyond any particular individual's interest. In similar, the "invisible
>> hand" in the realm of Web represents the general willingness of the free
>> public beyond any particular individual or organization's interest. In
>> short, the Web evolves in its own laws. We may try to recognize the laws and
>> adjust our plans by following the laws. But we cannot override the laws
>> since no individuals may lay their own interest above the all.
>> I have a series of writing about Web evolution<http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/2008/05/revision-of-web-evolution-series.html>.
>> Moreover, Adam Lindemann (a liquid thinker and at the same time a
>> realistic businessman) has shared with me his vision of the Harmonious
>> Age <http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/2008/05/harmonious-age.html>.
>> Then I extended the vision by two posts about how the the invention of World
>> Wide Web may eventually impact the evolution of our human society (*We
>> are in a new transition*, part1<http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/2008/05/we-are-in-new-transition-part-1.html>and part
>> 2<http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/2008/06/we-are-in-new-transition-part-2.html>).
>> Adam and I believe that we need to watch Semantic Web in a higher level
>> beyond just linked data or a Web of data. In fact, we humans are
>> continuously trying to inventing new "mind asset" with higher and higher
>> quality in practice. This general trend of "mind asset" production is a
>> secret behind the movement towards the visionary goal of Semantic Web.
>> Since you are trying to do comprehensive, non-technical writing about
>> Semantic Web and possibly particular for the industrial people rather than
>> the academic researchers, thinking beyond the academic Semantic Web might be
>> helpful for your purpose.
>> best,
>> Yihong
>> On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:20 AM, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> In brief, some time soon I'm planning to do a moderately comprehensive,
>>> fairly non-technical write-up on this topic (for Nodalities [1] - has quite
>>> a large & varied readership, including Planet RDF :-)
>>> I'd like to try to be as objective as possible (personal ideosyncracies
>>> aside). But I'm really hesitant... I want to do the topic justice, but am
>>> totally ignorant of a vast amount of what's been happening in the field of
>>> late (and have a terrible memory!). So I would very much like to draw on
>>> other people's knowledge and experience, different perspectives, even vague
>>> intuitions on this. In short, he-elp!
>>> Please reply on-list if it's ok for direct publication (include your
>>> homepage URI if you want quoting), mail me personally if you have
>>> off-the-record comments - if I use I won't mention source.
>>> The inspiration - last month I had the pleasure of attending a talk by
>>> Ivan Herman entitled "State of the Semantic Web" [2] (apologies Ivan, the
>>> most recent version of your slides I could find online are last year's at
>>> [3], but I think those carry the gist). Great material, but clearly he was
>>> there primarily in his role as semweb lead at the W3C, though to his credit
>>> he went far deeper than mere cheerleading.
>>> (I too do semweb stuff as a profession, but I'm fortunate enough that the
>>> company I work for encourages speculative exploration - if I asserted "the
>>> semweb sucks!", it'd just lead to further discussion ;-)
>>> Ok, so for this as-yet hypothetical write-up, I'd like to include a few
>>> success stories, as well as an example or two of things that *haven't*
>>> worked.
>>> Now a few random areas I'd love to hear thoughts on - some of them
>>> involve prognostication, but I'll interpolate backwards (!)...sorry, lots
>>> more bullets than I initially intended - please just pick any that you feel
>>> strongly about! -
>>> * Obviously Semantic Web technologies potentially have a big role within
>>> the corporate Intranet. How are things going there?
>>> (Personally I'm not comfortable with distinctions between "Public Web"
>>> and er, "HTTP on the LAN" or even "Our Lovely Inference Engine", but for
>>> present purposes I'll keep my mouth shut :-)
>>> * Money! What's the current status of funding for semweb research in
>>> academia? Inside big corps? Gov. orgs? Funding from VCs etc?
>>> * What's the range of application of RDF like nowadays? (Obscure examples
>>> would be nice)
>>> * What is the significance of recent interest in Semantic Technologies
>>> (those without necessarily having any tie to the Web)?
>>> * How far does RDF+SPARQL (+RDFS) get us? Where might OWL(2) take us? Is
>>> there any conflict between these directions?
>>> * How have the Linked Data initiatives changed perceptions in the use of
>>> RDF?
>>> * How's the chicken? How's the egg?
>>> (aside - we seem to have a decent supply of data now - but where are the
>>> UIs/hooks into existing UIs/never-before-considered applications?)
>>> * Has the role of the W3C changed in this context over the past few
>>> years?
>>> * Can we still speak of "The Semantic Web Community" as a (reasonably)
>>> unified whole? Should it be?
>>> * Have the attitudes of the developer community at large changed much
>>> towards the Semantic Web? (Did SWEO help?)
>>> * How has/will blogging influenced the Semantic Web?
>>> * Initially the Web 2.0 'movement' had little or nothing to do with the
>>> Semantic Web (beyond the lower layers of the stack) - is there any evidence
>>> of change there?
>>> * Slightly tangential - where do you see social networking going?
>>> (Possibilities off the top of my head - unification of services; general
>>> loss of interest through another fad coming along; descent into the Web
>>> infrastructure)
>>> - supplemental: assume the fad prognosis - what'll be next?
>>> * Is there yet any compelling, user-friendly application that is solidly
>>> based on the Semantic Web (and within that definition I'll include linked
>>> data and suchlike broad Web connectivity)?
>>>  - bonus: if I want to show Mom how cool the semweb is, without blinding
>>> her with triples, where do I start?
>>> * Of the old layer cake, we seem to approaching the point where some of
>>> the upper layers don't seem far off being ready for prime time: Rules,
>>> Logic, Proof. Too optimistic?
>>> * Again with the cake: we know we need Trust - but whatever happened to
>>> Signature, Encryption?
>>> * Named graphs are the future?
>>> * (Summary of the last few) - are we done with new specs yet?
>>> * Any impact anticipated from HTML5?
>>> * If there was (is?) a Web 2.0 cake, no doubt it would now include OpenID
>>> and OAuth - how compatible are these/can these be with the semweb tech we
>>> know & love?
>>> * Not unrelated, there's a fair bit of similarity between OpenID
>>> Attribute Exchange and RDF, as well as what appears to be a parallel stack
>>> to the (Semantic) Web with XRDS/XRI/XDI etc. Is independent invention of
>>> this nature a good thing or not?
>>> (My mouth remains firmly shut :-)
>>> * There's always been a Semantic Web roadmap - has its destination
>>> changed?
>>> * What obstacles are there?
>>> * Event/comm-related things - IM, XMPP, Twitter even - where's the semweb
>>> in all that?
>>> * Mobile Semantic Web - how're we doing?
>>> * Ubiquitous Semantic Web - how're we doing?
>>> * Jim Hendler's question: where are the agents?
>>> * What are the best next actions to carry this Grand Project (tm)
>>> forward?
>>> * Loose question - while it doesn't make much sense to say when the Web
>>> was/is finished (2 hosts? 2 billion?), but barring disasters, on what kind
>>> of timescale do you think we'll see a significant qualitative difference in
>>> the Web at large due to Semantic Web technologies?
>>> * Anyone noticed any serendipity recently?
>>> * What questions did I miss? :-)
>>> Cheers,
>>> Danny.
>>> [1] http://blogs.talis.com/nodalities/
>>> [2] http://www.semantic-conference.com/session/723/
>>> [3] http://www.w3.org/2007/Talks/0223-Bangalore-IH/
>>> --
>>> http://dannyayers.com
>>> ~
>>> http://blogs.talis.com/nodalities/this_weeks_semantic_web/
>> --
>> ===================================
>> Yihong Ding
>> Department of Computer Science
>> Brigham Young University
>> Web 1.0 residence (Homepage): http://www.deg.byu.edu/ding/
>> Web 2.0 residence (Thinking Space): http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/

Yihong Ding
Department of Computer Science
Brigham Young University
Web 1.0 residence (Homepage): http://www.deg.byu.edu/ding/
Web 2.0 residence (Thinking Space): http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/
Received on Monday, 30 June 2008 18:46:56 UTC

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