Re: "State of the Semantic Web" - personal opinions?

I chatted with Danny a while back, but I think it is worth putting my
tuppence in to the thread.

I develop for the Windows platform using .NET

Like it or not (and I know that many in the SemWeb community probably
don't care much for MS) this is where huge amounts of LoB development
gets done.

I am a huge fan of the semantic web 'promise' (also of REST, fwiw). My
problem is that there are no 'first-class' libraries out there for use
by .NET developers (especially those who are not experts in semantic

Yes, there is SemWeb [1]. But although it is the nearest to being
useful, it is not 'first class' (and I mean Joshua Tauberer no offence
in saying this).

Yes, there is Redland [2]. The problem is that the windows binaries
have not maintained since before the dinosaurs (correction: April
2006) and unless you are a C++ guru I don't fancy your chances.

Yes, I could write my own library ... but I'm insufficiently expert on
semantic technologies to do so and, besides, I want to ship end-user
functionality - not core libraries.

The truth, however unpalatable, is that unless MS or another big beast
ships a library / framework that the .NET community can rely upon and
learn from then the number of business apps employing semantic
technologies will remain small.

I do not wish to sound like a doomsayer. On the contrary, I fervently
hope that we will get .NET framework support - it's just it feels like
we are in the Dark Ages right now. If I am incorrect, and there is
such a library already, I would be overjoyed to be proven wrong.


Alan Dean

On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 6:20 PM, Danny Ayers <> wrote:
> In brief, some time soon I'm planning to do a moderately comprehensive,
> fairly non-technical write-up on this topic (for Nodalities [1] - has quite
> a large & varied readership, including Planet RDF :-)
> I'd like to try to be as objective as possible (personal ideosyncracies
> aside). But I'm really hesitant... I want to do the topic justice, but am
> totally ignorant of a vast amount of what's been happening in the field of
> late (and have a terrible memory!). So I would very much like to draw on
> other people's knowledge and experience, different perspectives, even vague
> intuitions on this. In short, he-elp!
> Please reply on-list if it's ok for direct publication (include your
> homepage URI if you want quoting), mail me personally if you have
> off-the-record comments - if I use I won't mention source.
> The inspiration - last month I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Ivan
> Herman entitled "State of the Semantic Web" [2] (apologies Ivan, the most
> recent version of your slides I could find online are last year's at [3],
> but I think those carry the gist). Great material, but clearly he was there
> primarily in his role as semweb lead at the W3C, though to his credit he
> went far deeper than mere cheerleading.
> (I too do semweb stuff as a profession, but I'm fortunate enough that the
> company I work for encourages speculative exploration - if I asserted "the
> semweb sucks!", it'd just lead to further discussion ;-)
> Ok, so for this as-yet hypothetical write-up, I'd like to include a few
> success stories, as well as an example or two of things that *haven't*
> worked.
> Now a few random areas I'd love to hear thoughts on - some of them involve
> prognostication, but I'll interpolate backwards (!)...sorry, lots more
> bullets than I initially intended - please just pick any that you feel
> strongly about! -
> * Obviously Semantic Web technologies potentially have a big role within the
> corporate Intranet. How are things going there?
> (Personally I'm not comfortable with distinctions between "Public Web" and
> er, "HTTP on the LAN" or even "Our Lovely Inference Engine", but for present
> purposes I'll keep my mouth shut :-)
> * Money! What's the current status of funding for semweb research in
> academia? Inside big corps? Gov. orgs? Funding from VCs etc?
> * What's the range of application of RDF like nowadays? (Obscure examples
> would be nice)
> * What is the significance of recent interest in Semantic Technologies
> (those without necessarily having any tie to the Web)?
> * How far does RDF+SPARQL (+RDFS) get us? Where might OWL(2) take us? Is
> there any conflict between these directions?
> * How have the Linked Data initiatives changed perceptions in the use of
> RDF?
> * How's the chicken? How's the egg?
> (aside - we seem to have a decent supply of data now - but where are the
> UIs/hooks into existing UIs/never-before-considered applications?)
> * Has the role of the W3C changed in this context over the past few years?
> * Can we still speak of "The Semantic Web Community" as a (reasonably)
> unified whole? Should it be?
> * Have the attitudes of the developer community at large changed much
> towards the Semantic Web? (Did SWEO help?)
> * How has/will blogging influenced the Semantic Web?
> * Initially the Web 2.0 'movement' had little or nothing to do with the
> Semantic Web (beyond the lower layers of the stack) - is there any evidence
> of change there?
> * Slightly tangential - where do you see social networking going?
> (Possibilities off the top of my head - unification of services; general
> loss of interest through another fad coming along; descent into the Web
> infrastructure)
> - supplemental: assume the fad prognosis - what'll be next?
> * Is there yet any compelling, user-friendly application that is solidly
> based on the Semantic Web (and within that definition I'll include linked
> data and suchlike broad Web connectivity)?
>  - bonus: if I want to show Mom how cool the semweb is, without blinding her
> with triples, where do I start?
> * Of the old layer cake, we seem to approaching the point where some of the
> upper layers don't seem far off being ready for prime time: Rules, Logic,
> Proof. Too optimistic?
> * Again with the cake: we know we need Trust - but whatever happened to
> Signature, Encryption?
> * Named graphs are the future?
> * (Summary of the last few) - are we done with new specs yet?
> * Any impact anticipated from HTML5?
> * If there was (is?) a Web 2.0 cake, no doubt it would now include OpenID
> and OAuth - how compatible are these/can these be with the semweb tech we
> know & love?
> * Not unrelated, there's a fair bit of similarity between OpenID Attribute
> Exchange and RDF, as well as what appears to be a parallel stack to the
> (Semantic) Web with XRDS/XRI/XDI etc. Is independent invention of this
> nature a good thing or not?
> (My mouth remains firmly shut :-)
> * There's always been a Semantic Web roadmap - has its destination changed?
> * What obstacles are there?
> * Event/comm-related things - IM, XMPP, Twitter even - where's the semweb in
> all that?
> * Mobile Semantic Web - how're we doing?
> * Ubiquitous Semantic Web - how're we doing?
> * Jim Hendler's question: where are the agents?
> * What are the best next actions to carry this Grand Project (tm) forward?
> * Loose question - while it doesn't make much sense to say when the Web
> was/is finished (2 hosts? 2 billion?), but barring disasters, on what kind
> of timescale do you think we'll see a significant qualitative difference in
> the Web at large due to Semantic Web technologies?
> * Anyone noticed any serendipity recently?
> * What questions did I miss? :-)
> Cheers,
> Danny.
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> --
> ~

Received on Monday, 30 June 2008 18:32:51 UTC