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Applications for advancing the adoption of the Semantic Web

From: Mark William Mitchell <mwm8d@cms.mail.virginia.edu>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 11:37:36 -0400
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Message-ID: <113137913.1035200256@TH95.eservices.virginia.edu>

Hey everyone,

I have been toying around with an idea lately and would 
like to get some feedback.  I am writing my senior thesis 
basically about how to advance the adoption of the semantic 
web.  It seems to me that all the tools exist already that 
are necessary for the semantic web to become a reality, but 
that we are still a long way off from making even, say, 10% 
of the data on the Internet machine-understandable.  The 
biggest stumbling block to the adoption might actually be a 
human interface problem.  Web authors do not even take the 
time to fill in a few simple metadata fields to make their 
sites more search engine friendly.  A lot of the time, 
metadata is gathered after a document has been written, 
either by semantically limited automated tools, or by 
functional experts combing through tons of documents. 
Knowledge bases usually only cover very specific domains 
and are not linked to any data external to their own.  If 
we are ever to have large quantities of 
machine-understandable data, capturing metadata at a 
document's creation time is critical.  What about an 
application that collects metadata from a document at the 
time of its creation?

Here's a possible scenario of use:
A consulting company wishes to build a "Lessons-Learned" 
knowledge base from many of their software development 
projects.  Developers would simply write down a 
"lesson-learned" in say, Word, or in a text file, or 
documented the problem in a piece of code.  They then would 
not be constrained to entering information into a few, 
already defined, database fields.  They could have a 
graphical representation of the lesson-learned, or a code 
sample, or a URL to a helpful hint, etc.  To create a 
"lesson-learned", the developer would create whatever file 
he wished to represent the information in, and save the 
file in his "lesson-learned" directory.  The application I 
am talking about would now pop up a dialog with common 
metadata fields pertaining to "lessons-learned" and parse 
through the file (if it knew the file type (such as 
straight text)).  The developer would enter in a few 
fields, and boom, good metadata about a pre-defined 
semantical file type.  This information could then be 
centralized on a server or searched in peer-to-peer fashion 
by other members of his compnay/team.

An application that knows what type of "semantical file" 
you are creating would be very useful.  By "semantical 
file" I mean like say, an "Architecture Drawing".  It is 
semantical becuase it is a concept.  It could be a JPEG, 
GIF, some sort of cad file, PDF, etc.  That would be what I 
call its "syntactical" file type.  The group you are a part 
of would have a functional expert define a few metadata 
fields relating to the semantical meaning of your document, 
and then the document creator would easily fill in the 
appropriate information at creation time.  The metadata 
from this would be shared across the network.

There are obviously a lot of grey areas as to how-to 
implement this, but I don't think it would be too 
difficult.  The main problem is not to invent some new 
protocol, but how to share the metadata gathered in a 
standards based way that other applications would have no 
problem interfacing with.  Any thoughts?

Thank you for your time,

Mark
Received on Monday, 21 October 2002 11:37:42 GMT

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