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Re: A discussion: Is semantic web [flamable]

From: Trent Shipley <tcshipley@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 15:02:52 -0700
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>, Jean-Luc Delatre <jld@club-internet.fr>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, semanticweb@yahoogroups.com
Message-Id: <200406171502.52241.tcshipley@earthlink.net>

On Thursday 2004-06-17 13:25, Dan Brickley wrote:
> * Jean-Luc Delatre <jld@club-internet.fr> [2004-06-17 22:10+0200]
> > The real challenge, and I suspect that you are very well aware of this,
> > is to define "something" (standards, formats, protocols, whatever) that
> > will allow to MEANINGFULLY interconnect at will, any two
> > applications with no or only nominal human intervention
> > or tailoring of the interface.
> >
> > THIS seems to be the not so clearly stated, if strongly hinted, goal of
> > the Semantic Web.
> No.
> What we are trying to do is provide a basis for arbitrary
> application data formats to share common structures (eg. the bits that
> represent Documents might use Dublin Core, the bits that represent
> Persons might use FOAF, the bits that represent calendars/schedules
> might use rdf-ical, ...), alongside their own, application-specific data
> structures. Not a complicated idea. This is very different from a
> fairytale effort to enable abitrary pairs of applications to
> "meaningfully interconnect" in the stronger sense of working
> seamlessly together. The Semantic Web project is an effort
> to remove _arbitrary_ and wasteful barriers between applications.
> We make it possible for them to share some structure, and have partial
> understanding of data created elsewhere.
> If you think W3C materials on the SW somehow give the impression we are
> trying to build thinking machines, flying saucers, never-empty coffee
> cups or software that automatically works perfectly with all other
> software, please cite the URLs so we can refine our materials.
> > This is NOT ACHIEVABLE within the current state of the
> > technology nor within any short or medium term foreseeable future.
> >
> > This is MY challenge:
> >
> > Show evidence that this goal is achievable and give a time schedule!
> You have confused the Semantic Web project with something else.
> Dan

This point goes to Jean-Luc Delatre.  Semantic technology for the web has been 
heavilly hyped.

This seminal Scientific American article promises effective virtual agents and 
comes close to promising that the "search engine problem" will become 

Does not promise, but strongly implies semantic standards and technologies 
will lead to seamless integration of data appliances.

Corresponds more closely to Dan's more limited vision of RDF assisted 
electronic data interchange.

Dan, however, is correct that the hype is not directly attributable to the W3C 
or its RDF working groups.  Nevertheless, the question remains of whether 
engineers can be held responsible for marketing hype.

Also, Jean-Luc Delatre asks whether semantic technologies are of research 

Obviously, sematic-logic assisted EDI automation has the potential to be 
*VERY* important comercially.  However, EDI tends to deal with well bounded 
domains amenable to ontological and schematic capture.  It is therefore 
reasonable to ask whether EDI oriented semantic technologies are of interest 
for academic or theoretical research (and if so are they of interest at the 
CIS/business, software engineering, or computer science level or research).
Received on Thursday, 17 June 2004 18:05:47 UTC

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