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Re-thinking the Semantic Web and "Web 2.0"

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 20:24:21 +0000
Message-ID: <43CEA3F5.3070806@ibiblio.org>
To: Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>
Cc: ht@inf.ed.ac.uk

I just had this thought - which is probably not new.

Unless you've been living underground, you've noticed the explosion of
"Web 2.0" companies and technologies being bandied about, mostly with
some sort of basis in tagging and XML (via RSS, AJAX, etc.). In essence,
they are about categorizing and delivering content. I have little doubt
at least a few individuals are going to make some money out of this, and
some of the technologies ala Flickr have already become ubiquitous. But
the giant problem with all these schemes, is that primarily they are
"closed" - i.e. your data and your often ad-hoc and idiosyncratci
categorization of it are on some company's server somewhere - and the
server may not be tomorrow after their IPO fails.  And you can't "share"
that data across applications very well. And if you think RDF doesn't
have much power or portability, think about using just words to
categorize things!

Is there an analogy to the "Web 1.0"? Companies each making their own
categorization schemes, based on some sort of tagging, is sort of like
companies extending and even fracturing and abusing HTML 1.0 to make a
quick buck. We all know what happened to the first Web bubble...

Then perhaps the analogy will work out for the Semantic Web in the end.
Just like in the "Web 1.0", a people find a need, make a lot of money
out of it by fracturing it and not standardizing, and then finally after
the market's collapsed, individuals more concerned with technology and
the well-being of society than money proceed to pick up the pieces left
over when the Web bubble bursts. Except the first time it was
standardizing HTML and creating XML. Perhaps in a few years or less the
Semantic Web community will be picking up the pieces left and learning
the lessons, from the rash of people trying to make money off of the
"Web 2.0".
Although who knows what standard(s) we'll be using, but I'd bet my money
on something like RDF :)

Received on Wednesday, 18 January 2006 20:24:33 UTC

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