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Re: Web services and the Semantic Web

From: Sanjiva Weerawarana <sanjiva@watson.ibm.com>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2002 11:24:24 +0600
Message-ID: <035e01c20475$9c02f740$0aaa7cca@lankabook2>
To: "Mark Baker" <distobj@acm.org>, "Eric Newcomer" <eric.newcomer@iona.com>
Cc: <www-ws-arch@w3.org>
"Mark Baker" <distobj@acm.org> writes:
> 
> IMO, it's exactly the opposite.  There are excellent technical reasons
> for choosing the Semantic Web.  The problem is, it's impossible for
> somebody to understand these reasons unless they first understand how
> the Web works.  That is the essence of the divide between these two
> camps, in my experience.

I have been teaching, researching and building applications / 
technology with / for the Web since 1994. I have been building 
distributed systems stuff for more than 10 years. What else do
I need to do to be able to understand the Web?

> FWIW, I recently wrote this for the XMLP WG.  I just beefed up the
> bit at the end about the Semantic Web;
> 
> http://www.markbaker.ca/2002/05/GettingStuffDoneOnTheWeb/

I read this, but I'm still left with the same "didn't grok it"
feeling. One of your statements struck me in particular:

    "The neat part of RDF and the Semantic Web is that I can
     build a purchasing agent that knows nothing about shoes."

Maybe that statement exemplifies the problem: Web services 
are not about building agents of that nature. That's even 
beyond the UDDI vision of dynamically finding business partners
when you know what kind of partner you want. Getting there is 
hard enough with all the trust and security problems. You're 
wanting to do the UDDI type scenario when the requestor doens't
even know what kind of partner it needs. If I undertand the
scenario correctly its something like this: there's a program 
ordering someone's wardrobe. It will somehow infer that that 
that means they need to order shoes. However, that program
has no idea what a shoe is, that shoe-standards.org exists or 
what the shoe-standards.org's mechanisms for ordering shoes
are. Yet, it will somehow automatically figure out how to 
configure a pair of shoes and order it to fill the wardrobe. 

I agree that would be a nice feature and very cool. (I can imagine
a kiosk running this program sitting next to the lost baggage
counter at airports.) However, IMO we're just not there yet.

Web services are about enabling service-orientation. The basics
of Web services do not require the dynamic partner resolution
problem to be sorted out. It certainly does not need the dynamic
"what problem do I need to solve" problem to be sorted out. 

Web services are really just standardizing lots of existing
practice. People already do things that SOAP standardizes, 
have ad hoc ways to solve the WSDL problem, and so on. By
standarding a base layer, we're enabling the next layer of
problem to be solved, including the scenarios offered by the
semantic Web.

Sanjiva.
Received on Sunday, 26 May 2002 01:24:56 GMT

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