W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > May 2001

Re: deliverables?

From: Murray Altheim <altheim@eng.sun.com>
Date: Wed, 02 May 2001 02:28:10 -0700
Message-ID: <3AEFD32A.E18775FE@eng.sun.com>
To: Danny Ayers <danny@panlanka.net>
CC: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Danny Ayers wrote:
> Fortunately Semantic Web development isn't being financed by bean counters,
> otherwise I fear the project manager would now be looking for another
> position, possibly involving small ruminants.
> I'm glad Murray came back on this (without shooting me down in flames), I
> agree that fleshing out the terminology and coming up with concrete goals
> (however limited & short term) might avoid a lot of wasted effort.

Shoot you down in flames? I just call 'em like I see 'em. I try to be nice
if I think the person is playing straight with me; I don't get the impression
you're BSing me. I guess I've just gained a lower tolerance for BS over the 

> I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the DARPA effort in this respect - I must
> admit the US military connection makes me rather uneasy (like having a
> chupacabra in the neighbourhood) but I reckon the DAML efforts show that
> things can certainly be achieved by having a bit of clarity.

I've yet to be convinced that DAML is the right vehicle for "our" Semantic
Web. Oftentimes military projects are impressive for one reason or another,
but it helps to remember they weren't usually developed with the same set
of requirements. And damn, just too many cute military acronyms. Heavy OIL
and GRUNT. I won't say what that sounds like.

The idea that "ontologies are springing up like mushrooms" should give 
people the idea that *existing* projects are now seeing the light of
day, not that these are all brand new projects. I saw the first glimmerings
of what is now Cycorp's ontology when I was on an SRI tour in 1979. I 
suspect that a number of projects have been around in some form for many
years. What I was harping on earlier was that we should all become as
aware as possible of the different foci of those projects, ie., survey
them in our minds. I don't necessarily think we should adopt any of them,
but at least be aware of some of the issues. It's hard work for those of
us who didn't start in that field, a whole different lexicon. 

> So far the concensus seems to be that the long term benefits of the SW
> aren't quantifiable, but are potentially in a 'save the world' league. It
> would seem that the answer to 'what is there now?' would be a handful of
> bits, but one or two new components (e.g. RDF-XML) that don't do much in
> themselves but should be enough to tie everything together into something
> interesting.

Pretty much everyone I've met over the past few years in the knowledge
management community has some of the 'save the world' thing going, but
I don't fault them for that; it probably never hurt for someone to 
believe passionately in their work, though it sometimes gets out of 
hand (it has with me as well). It seems we're onto a whole new generation
of people who weren't around for the AI hype, though, at least from some
of the things I've been reading lately.

When you say that you're excited seeing things being developed, I probably
share a lot of the same excitement, but I'm more concerned (apparently more
than at least you've expressed) that without more of a public consensus on 
architecture, the idea of them just being "soldered together" will be
sadly mistaken.

It reminds me of one of our recent staff meetings, where some of our
engineers were bemoaning the amount of actual effort an integration
project required to complete, trying to fulfill one of those magic-hand-
waving-you-just-plug-it-together promises from someone somewhere in 
marketing. Without some coordination up front, some of these things are
going to be a lot worse than fitting a round peg in a square hole.


Murray Altheim                            <mailto:altheim&#x40;eng.sun.com>
XML Technology Center
Sun Microsystems, Inc., MS MPK17-102, 1601 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025

      In the evening
      The rice leaves in the garden
      Rustle in the autumn wind
      That blows through my reed hut.  -- Minamoto no Tsunenobu
Received on Wednesday, 2 May 2001 05:28:17 UTC

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