Re: considered helpful

nicely put!

Juan Sequeda

On Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 4:09 PM, Harry Halpin <> wrote:

> I've been watching the community response to for the last
> bit of time. Overall, I think we should clarify why people are upset.
> First, there should be no reason to be upset that the major search
> engines went off and created their own vocabularies. According to the
> argument of decentralized extensibility, *exactly* what
> Google/Yahoo!/Microsoft are supposed to be doing. It's a
> straightfoward site that clearly for how the average Web developer can
> use structured data in markup to solve real-world use-cases and
> provides examples.  That's the entire vision of the Semantic Web, let
> a thousand ontologies bloom with no central control.
> The reason people are upset are that they didn't use RDFa, but instead
> used microdata. One *cannot* argue that Google is ignoring open
> standards. RDFa and microdata are *both* Last Call W3C Working Drafts
> now. RDFa 1.0 is a spec but only for XHTML 1.0, which is not what most
> of the Web uses. Microdata does have RDF parsing bugs, but again, most
> developers outside the Semantic Web probably don't care - they want
> JSON anyways.
> Form what I understand from tevents  where Rich Snippets team has
> presented is that RDFa is simply too complicated for ordinary web
> developers to use. Google has been deploying Rich Snippets for two
> years, claim to have user-studies  and have experience with a large
> user-base. This user-driven feedback should be taken on board by both
> relevant WGs obviously, HTML and RDFa. Designing technology without
> user-feedback leads to odd results (for proof, see many of the fun and
> exiciting "httpRange-14" discussions). Which is also why many
> practical developers do not use the technology.
> But realistically, it's not the RDFa WG's job to do user-studies and
> build compelling user-experiences in products. They are only a few
> people. Why has the *hundreds* of people in the Semantic Web community
> not done such work?
> The fact of the matter is that the Semantic Web academic community has
> had their priorities skewed to the wrong direction. Had folks been
> spending time doing usability testing and focussing on user-feedback
> on common problems (such as the rather obvious "vocabulary hosting"
> problem) rather than focussing on things with little to no support
> with the world outside academia, then we probably would not be in the
> situation we are in today. Today, major companies such as Microsoft
> (oData) and Google (microdata) are jumping on the "open data"
> bandwagon but finding the RDF stack unacceptable. Some of it may be a
> "not invented here" syndrome, but as anyone who has actually looked at
> RDF/XML can tell you, some of it is hard-to-deny technical reasoning
> by companies that have decided that "open data" is a great market but
> do not agree with the technical choices made by the  Semantic Web
> stack.
> This is not to say good things can't come out of the academic
> community - the *internet* came out of the academic community. But
> seriously, at some point (think of the role of Netscape in getting the
> Web going with the magic of images) commercial companies enter the
> game. We should be happy now search engines are seeing value in
> structured data on the Web.
> I would suggest the Semantic Web community take on-board the
> "microdata" challenge in two different ways. First of all, start
> focussing on user-studies and user experience (not just visual
> interfaces, the Semantic Web has more than its share of user-hostile
> visual interfaces). It's harder to publish academic papers on these
> topics but possible (see SIGCHI), and would help a lot with actual
> deployment. Second, we should start focussing more on actual empirical
> data-driven feedback, both on what parts of RDF are being used and
> common mistakes. With indexes such as the Billion Triple Challenge and
> Sindice's index, we can actually do that with the Semantic Web. Third,
> why not actually try to get RDF - or "open data more broadly" into the
> browser in usable manner? Tabulator may be a step in the right
> direction, but the user experience needs work. Fourth, why not start a
> company and try to deliver products to actual end-users and give that
> feedback to the wider community and W3C WGs (and if you already work
> for an actual SemWeb company, please send your feedback from user
> studies to the WG before Last Call)? I believe the Semantic Web
> research community - which still has tons of funding and lots of
> passion - can make the Web better.
> is not a threat. It's an opportunity to step up. Good luck
> everyone!
>           cheers,
>               harry
> P.S.: Note this opinions are purely personal and held as an individual.

Received on Thursday, 16 June 2011 21:52:56 UTC