W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-lod@w3.org > July 2012

Re: Linked Data Business Models?

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2012 19:58:19 -0400
Message-ID: <5015CE1B.6040703@openlinksw.com>
To: nathan@webr3.org
CC: "public-lod@w3.org" <public-lod@w3.org>
On 7/29/12 10:42 AM, Nathan wrote:
> Kingsley Idehen wrote:
>> All,
>> There is a tendency assume an eternal lack of functional and scalable 
>> business models with regards to Linked Data. I think its time for an 
>> open discussion about this matter.
>> It's no secret, I've never seen business models as challenging Linked 
>> Data. Quite the contrary. That said, instead of a dump from me about 
>> my viewpoints on Linked Data models, how about starting this 
>> discussion by identifying any non "Advertising based business model" 
>> that have actually worked on the Web to date.
>> As far as I know, "Advertising" and "Surreptitious Personal Profile 
>> Data Wholesale" are the only models that have made a difference to 
>> the bottom lines of: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and other non 
>> eCommerce oriented behemoths.
>> Based on the above, let's have a serious and frank discussion about 
>> business models with the understanding agreement that one size will 
>> never fit all, ever, so this rule cannot be overlooked re. Linked 
>> Data. Also remember, Business models aren't silver bullets, they are 
>> typically aligned with markets (qualified and quantified pain points) 
>> and the evolving nature of tangible and monetizable value.
>> Hopefully, the floor is now open to everyone that has a vested 
>> interest in this very important matter :-)
> Perhaps linked data is the very thing hindering itself.

No, I really think its the way its narrative has evolved. IMHO., the 
moment we opened the door for it being misconceived as being RDF format 
specific, everything starting going south. It became easy to FUD the 
whole Linked Data meme by simply conflating it with RDF and then 
associating it with all of RDF's long term image issues.

RDF is a FUD vector for Linked Data, plain and simple.

> To explain, RDF/EAV, linked data principals and general sem-webery 
> would vastly improve every single project, system, application, and 
> website I've ever made for commercial clients.

Yes. And bar those playing the FUD and/or cognitive dissonance game, 
this should be pretty obvious by now. Just look at the post of this 
thread, and the one that preceded its hand over to the W3C hosts.
> However, the primary gains come from use *behind* the public 
> interface, at the data and business logic tiers.

They don't come from behind the public interface. That's like saying the 
value of Linked Documents comes from use behind the public interface. 
What about the acts of data access, representation, integration, 
sharing/dissemination, and management that are all improved via 
hyperlinks? A single link (a URI) is now the most powerful data source 
naming mechanism in the history of the computer industry.

> For sure that event management system I made a few years ago for big 
> internationals would have, and for sure the stock management & 
> reporting system I made a decade ago would have, and likewise every 
> other project in between.
> Linked (open) data is great, but when all the focus is on skinny 
> public data, and systems themselves aren't built on the core 
> principals, and investors / clients don't see the benefits to their 
> back end business, then there isn't much call for them to use it.

If they see utility in hyperlinks they will see utility in Linked Data. 
Our problem is that there are too many poor narratives around Linked 
Data. Too many misconceptions the fundamentally perpetuate the following 
false impressions:

1. you need to own a domain
2. you need to control a Web Server -- for rewrite rules and explicit 
content negotiation
3. you need grok URI style patterns -- shortcut the eternally 
problematic HttpRange-14 imbroglio.

Basically, the combined issues in 1-3 above == code for -- 
Do-It-Yourself Linked Data Deployment isn't possible.

> This "business models" discussion confuses me, as every business 
> model, and every business I've ever encountered, would greatly benefit 
> from all the sem-webbery goodness., and greatful for it.

Yes, but in the game of business you have to deal with FUD (Fear 
Uncertainty and Doubt) and Cognitive Dissonance as competitive weapons. 
To accept utility of Linked Data if you feel you aren't ready to 
dominate competitively, to the conventional, is a recipe for commercial 
suicide, so you have to counter it. Trouble with Linked Data is that its 
the true essence of the Web itself, and its recoil effect on FUD 
peddlers will ultimately be merciless due to the negative effects of 
credibility of those that play this flawed game.

> The adoption costs are still high though, the ontologies are often 
> focussed on skinny "public" data, and ultimately who's using any of 
> what's been created in a normal web based business environment.
> Seriously, who here has an ecommerce shop which runs on linked data / 
> rdf (as opposed to exposing it through gr, microdata etc)?

We are, and like you said, it empowers the internal systems. But I would 
validate or invalidate Linked Data's business model viability on the 
basis of this usage pattern.

> who has a stock inventory and reporting system where the core (not 
> secondary/additional) database is an RDF one?

There's no need for the core to be based on RDF based Linked Data if the 
existing RDBMS system works fine. Linked Data adds something to what 
exists. It should never be pitched as a "rip and replace" solution.

> who's running a contextually aware infotizing/advertising network 
> where all the data is linked/rdf?

See comment above.

> The business models all exist already, and sem web / linked data can 
> be applied to each of them.

Yes! It adds new exploitation dimensions that are Webby in nature.

> But who's going to build things on linked open data, when they aren't 
> already using it behind the public interface in their own business?

Anyone seek to exploit the inner essence of the Web. Basically, anyone 
that seeks to go beyond the limitations of conventional report writers 
and business analytics tools re. Webby-ness via the power of hyperlinks 
as powerful data access, integration, and dissemination mechanisms.

> And to those who've tried, I'm sure you'll agree that there's still a 
> fair bit of work to be done in order to build full business apps on 
> top of rdf & linked data, many unanswered questions, and big learning 
> curves for those who try.

The learning curves don't have to be big if we craft the correct 
narratives. For instance, anyone that groks RDBMS technology can easily 
grok RDF via EAV, via narratives that don't try to pitch the RDF model 
and something devoid of technology lineage etc..
> Things are improving though, perhaps just needs an extra kick from 
> people using RDF/linked data behind the public interface, instead of 
> creating demo's using skinny public data.

It just about a narrative that shows how Linked Data brings the power of 
the hyperlinks to open data connectivity. To date, the world has been 
preoccupied with Open Database and Document connectivity. Basically, 
they are exploiting whats akin to connecting Word Documents and 
Microsoft Access Reports without realizing the same power extends to the 
Excel spreadsheet, right down the cell level. Of course in this case, 
there's no "Microsoft Office" prefix, its just happens via hyperlinks :-)
> Best,
> Nathan



Kingsley Idehen	
Founder & CEO
OpenLink Software
Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Personal Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter/Identi.ca handle: @kidehen
Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/112399767740508618350/about
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kidehen

Received on Sunday, 29 July 2012 23:57:40 UTC

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