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Re: Weakness in the Semantic Web?

From: Kevin Smathers <ks@micky.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 09:51:36 -0700
To: "Roger L. Costello" <costello@mitre.org>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Message-ID: <20030506095136.A22104@micky.hpl.hp.com>

First of all, I'm not sure this is a weakness.  The semantic web isn't
a coherent system any more than the web is a coherent system.  If you
wanted to be able to reason over the entirety of the semweb and get
consistent results then this would be a weakness, but even determining
how to execute such a query would be a major problem.

RDF in the semantic web is for sharing of information.  As data formats
change either the reader learns to recognize and evaluate both the new
and the old formats simultaneously, or does without some of the data
that is available.  This can already be seen in the various systems that
use RSS.  RSS has gone through several revisions, and the sites publishing
that data decide what they want to publish while sites consuming the
data decide what they will accept.  

On Fri, May 02, 2003 at 07:34:39PM -0400, Roger L. Costello wrote:
> 
> A colleague sent me the below message.  How would you respond to it?
> 
> > ... a weakness in the Semantic Web, which is to say that there 
> > needs to be universal agreement on definitions or the process 
> > breaks down.  Even if there is universal agreement at a point
> > in time, definitions will evolve and mutate, as in regular 
> > language. 
> 

There is not a central authority that commands all sites to synchronously
upgrade from 0.9, to 1.0, or from 1.0 to 2.0.   We used to see the same
problem with EDI back when the theory was that you tried to gain absolute
agreement on the contents of the EDI messages before beginning an 
integration effort.  A much better approach is the Usenet theory of 
interaction; when reading be as forgiving of the information you read 
as you are able and when you write, write as clearly as you are able.

What your colleague was realizing was that the semantic web isn't an
internally consistent complete system.

Cheers,
-kls
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Received on Tuesday, 6 May 2003 12:51:13 GMT

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