W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > March 2010

Re: call to arms

From: Story Henry <henry.story@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 15:22:43 +0100
Cc: "'Semantic Web'" <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-Id: <5958F8D7-A493-4A83-89EE-2F9A388B42F0@bblfish.net>
To: "K. Krasnow Waterman" <kkw@MIT.EDU>

On 30 Mar 2010, at 02:11, K. Krasnow Waterman wrote:

> I hope you'll allow me to jump in.  I don't know most of you but have been
> part of the MIT DIG group for several years and organized the Linked Data
> Lab here in January.
> I always point to my husband when I describe why/how the Web got successful
> so fast.  He was not involved in programming or technology in any way, but
> GeoCities (remember them?) made it so easy to make and post a web page on
> whatever interested you, that he was able to make a page in about two hours
> in 1995.  He did it because it was something new and its outcome was
> self-evident (publishing to the world for free).  

Let us take the time machine back then.

GeoCities is a company dedicated to offering rich and dynamic content for our members and visitors alike. The centerpiece of that strategy is providingfree Personal Home Pages in one of our twenty-seven themedcommunities to anyone with access to the Web. We also offer a free GeoCities Email account to everyone that signs up for a free home page. We have more than 140,000 individuals sharing their thoughts and passions with the world, and creating the most diverse and unique content on the Web.

Notice how geocities was about creating a space for someone to describe themselves: their home page.

The first thing everyone did on the web was to write a home page. Similarly the first thing people do in linked data is link their friends. If this can be shown to be useful, then it will  increase the value of doing it. For the moment, writing your foaf profile is nearly just a write only exercise. Some robots read it, but the result of doing so is not immediately obvious, if at all. Once one can see what the benefit is - and here I mean close to immediate feedback - such as getting access to a campus, being able to chat with friends, not having complex logins - being better able to communicate with friends of friends - then there will be a better reason, not only for oneself to have a profile but for one to get others to have one too.

> Since social networking isn't new and the SemWeb benefits so far are hard to
> describe,

The outcome is pretty easy to describe: you are no longer locked into one provider.
For the millions of people that have lost all the work they did because their social service provider went belly up, that is immediately easy to understand. For all the organisations that can't put people on Facebook, that is also easy. 

It's just that bootstrapping requires a bit of faith.

> I don't think that will win millions of fans.  Conversely, I think
> that Linked Data could take SemWeb viral.  

Yes, foaf is linked data. It's the most personal linked data there is.
Just as geocities started by putting the individual at the center, so foaf starts at the same place. Foaf+ssl just allows people to protect some of their information, and also allows them to gain access to other services. This can give the foaf an immediate magical effect.

> What is new is the concept of getting exactly what you want to know.  
> I think when there's a geocities
> equivalent for linked data -- something that lets a user easily build a
> single query that gives them the result that today takes 20+ queries -- you
> won't be able to hold back the tide.  

Everybody is interested in something different. There will be no one database that will
interest everyone. And even if it did, it would in the end with a good UI not seem to anyone as if it were linked data: since people will gravitate towards the interface that best hides that fact. 

If you want to help people grok linked data just having them play with data that is based on Linked Data won't help. After all: how would they distinguish that from normal data?

> To get there, we need more programmers
> with Linked Data skills and some good standards for how to communicate
> across ontologies.

Yes, the best way to do that is to start getting people to play with social networks.
They are bound to be interested. As they improve the descriptions about themselves, they will then turn to dbpedia, musicbrains, and all the other linked data sites out there. Building on the initial social momentum will get all the other services tied in.

I did not start out doing foaf+ssl. I started trying Atom then Atom/OWL, the bug databases. In the end I came to the conclusion that we need people to put together their own geocities page.

> Thanks, -k

Thanks for reminding me of geocities :-)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: semantic-web-request@w3.org [mailto:semantic-web-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Karl Dubost
> Sent: Monday, March 29, 2010 7:22 PM
> To: Danny Ayers
> Cc: Semantic Web
> Subject: Re: call to arms
> Le 29 mars 2010 à 15:39, Danny Ayers a écrit :
>> The Semantic Web should be useful by now, by anyone's predictions.
> First take a look at:
> http://linkeddata.org/
> http://semanticweb.org/wiki/Main_Page
> http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/
> http://www.google.com/search?q=Semantic+Web
> http://www.google.com/search?q=linked+data
> It is ugly :) hard core, difficult to look at
> Check any CSS Web gallery
> http://www.cssbeauty.com/archives/category/business/
> http://cssremix.com/
> You might not like them, it might not suit some geeks tastes, but it matters
> for many people.
> ACTION: Work with Web and UX designers
> Tools
> http://openid4.me/
> http://webid.myxwiki.org/
> No way you will convice people with it :)
> What is the narrative? What is the story around it?
> Look at these
> http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/interface-design-loginsignup
> ACTION: Package tools in a way which is seamless.
> Danny has been one of the most convincing evangelist for years. We need
> more. 
> ACTION: Tell a story to people.
> -- 
> Karl Dubost
> Montréal, QC, Canada
> http://www.la-grange.net/karl/
Received on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 14:23:24 UTC

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