W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > April 2002

RE: Documents, Cars, Hills, and Valleys

From: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2002 21:38:28 -0700
Message-ID: <4F4182C71C1FDD4BA0937A7EB7B8B4C104F05654@red-msg-08.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: <msabin@interx.com>, <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
> There already _are_ thousands of such assertions. Either people are

> Well, this is the status quo, and the prospects of changing it strike
> me as fairly slim. So if you're right that this renders metadata
> useless, we may as well pack up and go home.

Now you see my point.  The status quo is that there are a few people
publishing assertions that very few other people ever use, and are
impossible to aggregate globally in any meaningful way.

In other words, the status quo is that we do NOT have a semantic web; we
have a bunch of people rolling their own hypercard systems and claiming
that they are building a world-wide-web.

In 1989, you could have argued that "there are thousands of hypertext
pages that use hyperlinks which are only meaningful within context of
their particular system -- this is the status quo, and dreaming about
universal identifiers so that all hyperlink systems interoperate is a
pipe-dream, bub."

But this was as wrong about the WWW then as it is about the "semantic
web" now.  A true semantic "web" uses universal identifiers, period.
Saying that there are lots of fragmented systems that use identifiers
which are not truly universal is not the same as saying that a system
which *does* use universal identifiers is not possible or desirable.  

Hypercard didn't stop the WWW from being deployed -- in fact the WWW
made closed-world hypertext systems seem rather insignificant in short
order.  Maybe closed-world semantic systems are interesting to you, but
I believe that a semantic web has potential to make the "status quo"

> largely untroubled by ambguity, or, in practice, ambiguity isn't the
> disasterous problem you're making it out to be.

In practice, there is no semantic web yet.  And in practice, people
using identifiers in gratuitously ambiguous ways will never be a part of
a global semantic web.  We all agree that these people will probably be
able to do interesting things with their polluted metadata, and perhaps
even build bridges to the global semantic web through lots of manual
conversion.  But that's about as relevant to "the semantic web" as
hypercard was to the WWW. 
Received on Tuesday, 23 April 2002 00:38:36 UTC

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