W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > October 2017

Re: What Happened to the Semantic Web?

From: Carl Wimmer <carl@correlationconcepts.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:59:53 -0500
To: semantic-web@w3.org
Message-ID: <64a1f0a5-38f5-b8e7-573f-670bba896d7b@correlationconcepts.com>
Yes, lots of research ... but only in private companies.

They are surging ahead.

On 10/11/2017 6:58 AM, Neil McNaughton wrote:
>
> >> is there ANY research?
>
> http://cordis.europa.eu/search/result_en?q=%27semantic+web%27+2017
>
> Best regards
>
> Neil McNaughton - @neilmcn <http://www.twitter.com/neilmcn>
>
> Editor and Publisher, Oil IT Journal
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> *From:* adasal [mailto:adam.saltiel@gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Wednesday, October 11, 2017 1:28 PM
> *To:* Sean B. Palmer <sean@miscoranda.com>
> *Cc:* SW-forum Web <semantic-web@w3.org>; www-archive 
> <www-archive@w3.org>; public-lod@w3.org
> *Subject:* Re: What Happened to the Semantic Web?
>
> That's interesting and seems about right.
>
> Adam Saltiel
>
> On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 12:06 PM, Sean B. Palmer sean@miscoranda.com 
> <mailto:sean@miscoranda.com> wrote:
>
>     I was curious as to what was going on with the Semantic Web these
>
>     days: where did it go, who's using it, who's talking about it? As
>
>     usual I decided to chat about it in the Semantic Web Interest Group
>
>     channel #swig on Freenode, but since there is no logger there I
>
>     scraped the log out of my IRC client and am posting it here.
>
>     In case you don't want to wade through the waffle, the summary is that
>
>     there were roughly four phases of Semantic Web development starting
>
>     with the eponymous golden age: Semantic Web (2001-2005), Linked Data
>
>     (2006-2010), JSON-LD (2010-2014), and now the Data Activity (2015-).
>
>     The biggest tangible results are Schema.org in conjunction with
>
>     JSON-LD for SEO, Dbpedia, a few tacky database products, and very
>
>     loosely the API economy.
>
>     The only work that I could find still taking place on the Semantic Web
>
>     is under the W3C's Data Activity, which is very quiet and of limited
>
>     scope. On the other hand, the conceptual legacy of the Semantic Web is
>
>     still quite strong, and I make some notes on that in the log. As I
>
>     say, the Semantic Web was originally the conception of graphs instead
>
>     of trees, with global symbols, published in an open and decentralised
>
>     system.
>
>     The main problem seems not to have been the proliferation of the
>
>     Semantic junk such as RDF/XML and SPARQL, as is sometimes argued
>
>     (references below), but rather that the Web side did not provide an
>
>     open and decentralised system in which to host the Semantic side.
>
>     Ongoing efforts are being made to rectify that, but there are no
>
>     promising solutions in that domain and so many of the Semantic Web
>
>     ideas will remain dormant.
>
>     <sbp> looking at how active Semantic Web stuff is now, out of
>     curiosity
>
>     <sbp> it seems that http://planetrdf.com/ is just a CFP spam site now
>
>     <sbp> there is some activity on
>     https://www.w3.org/wiki/Special:RecentChanges
>     <https://www.w3.org/wiki/Special:RecentChanges>
>
>     <sbp> none of the recent stuff seems to be SW related though
>
>     <selckin> some people refuse to give up
>
>     <sbp> let's try
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2001/sw/wiki/index.php?title=Special:RecentChanges&days=365&from=
>
>     <sbp> selckin: who?
>
>     <sbp> only a few edits to this over the past year
>
>     <sbp> mostly on https://www.w3.org/2001/sw/wiki/ShEx
>     <https://www.w3.org/2001/sw/wiki/ShEx> it seems
>
>     <sbp> appears to be some sort of not very good schema thing, though
>
>     ericP did make one of the implementations
>
>     <sbp> the http://answers.semanticweb.com/ site that the IG page links
>
>     to doesn't even respond
>
>     <sbp> and
>     https://www.w3.org/2007/11/Talks/search/query%3fdate=All+past+and+future+talks&%3bactivity=Semantic+Web&%3bsortInverse=yes
>
>     is a "Discontinued service"
>
>     <sbp> the CG page at https://www.w3.org/2001/sw/CG/wiki/
>     <https://www.w3.org/2001/sw/CG/wiki/> asks for log in
>
>     <sbp> the RDFa WG is listed as active but according to
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2010/02/rdfa/ it was closed in 2015
>
>     <sbp> same with the RDF WG but
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2011/rdf-wg/wiki/Main_Page says that was closed in
>
>     2014
>
>     <sbp> the LDP WG closed in 2014 too,
>     https://www.w3.org/2012/ldp/wiki/Main_Page
>     <https://www.w3.org/2012/ldp/wiki/Main_Page>
>
>     <sbp> ah, an explanation: "A few days ago W3C started a new activity,
>
>     called Data Activity, that also subsumes the (by now old) Semantic Web
>
>     Activity." — https://www.w3.org/blog/SW/
>
>     <sbp> strange that the SW page itself doesn't explain that
>
>     <sbp> heh, dsr is the lead. well how about that
>
>     <sbp> they have a "Dataset Exchange Working Group",
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2017/dxwg/wiki/Main_Page
>
>     <sbp> trying to work out what this is
>
>     <sbp> they were working on DCAT, but that was RECed in 2014:
>
>     https://www.w3.org/TR/vocab-dcat/
>
>     <sbp> oh I see. it goes dc > dct > dcat
>
>     <sbp> then there's https://w3c.github.io/poe/vocab/
>     <https://w3c.github.io/poe/vocab/> which is a rights
>
>     policy thing
>
>     <sbp> I dunno if the W3C should be working on anything rights related
>
>     these days. they seem to abrogate their responsibilities to society as
>
>     hard as they can
>
>     <sbp> there's also https://w3c.github.io/dxwg/ucr/
>     <https://w3c.github.io/dxwg/ucr/> which says that
>
>     DCAT has some shortcomings they want to address. that's been three
>
>     years in the making then...
>
>     <sbp> (uses ReSpec. "ReSpec is a document production toolchain, with a
>
>     notable focus on W3C specifications.")
>
>     <sbp> there's also the POE WG, which is actually doing the rights
>
>     thing rather than DX WG:
>     https://www.w3.org/2016/poe/wiki/Main_Page
>     <https://www.w3.org/2016/poe/wiki/Main_Page>
>
>     (see above)
>
>     <sbp> SD WG are working on spatial data:
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2015/spatial/wiki/Main_Page
>
>     <sbp> ah, and the Data Shapes WG seems to be covering the ShEx thing I
>
>     found above: https://www.w3.org/2014/data-shapes/wiki/Main_Page
>     <https://www.w3.org/2014/data-shapes/wiki/Main_Page>
>
>     <sbp> seems to have been active, with Sandro no less, up to 2017:
>
>     https://www.w3.org/2017/05/31-shapes-minutes.html
>
>     <sbp> shame really; I thought Sandro would continue to go on to do
>
>     more interesting things
>
>     <sbp> it's like when you see tech stars from the 1980s and they're on
>
>     twitter moaning about Trump
>
>     <sbp> and then others are writing lisp machine hardware verified in
>
>     Coq or something
>
>     <sbp> heh, https://www.w3.org/2013/dwbp/wiki/Main_Page
>     <https://www.w3.org/2013/dwbp/wiki/Main_Page> is said to be
>
>     active but was closed this year
>
>     <sbp> aand the Data Activity blog hasn't been updated since 2015:
>
>     https://www.w3.org/blog/data/
>
>     <sbp> .t https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3078751
>     <https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3078751>
>
>     <yoleaux> sbp: Sorry, I don't know what timezone that is. If in doubt,
>
>     see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tz_database_time_zones for a
>
>     list of options.
>
>     <sbp> what
>
>     <sbp> .title https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3078751
>     <https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3078751>
>
>     <yoleaux> 403 - Forbidden Access to The Digital Library
>
>     <sbp> "hat Happened To The Semantic Web?"
>
>     <sbp> no PDF of the paper that I can find, but slides:
>
>     https://ht.acm.org/ht2017/images/MikaPeterACM%20Hypertext%202017-WhatHappenedSemanticWeb.pdf
>
>     <sbp> says that 2001-2004 was the golden age
>
>     <sbp> then 2006 introduced Linked Data
>
>     <sbp> ah, there we go: "Current status (2017)"
>
>     <sbp> reduced standardisation (not kidding), narrower research focus
>
>     (is there ANY research?), and maturing technology
>
>     <sbp> the technology is Neo4j, Virtuoso, and Allegrograph. plus Oracle
>
>     and Microsoft stuff that I won't even bother to mention
>
>     <sbp> says that a big problem was that ontologies were centralised
>
>     (sigh), and data held privately (well, we should have seen that one
>
>     coming). also, no use of Linked Data because of trust issues! what
>
>     happened to the crypto that I helped timbl add to CWM then, eh? eh?
>
>     <sbp> mentions FOAF eventually
>
>     <sbp> quietly mentions the fact that the web has changed, data
>     silos, all that
>
>     <sbp> "Some useful data", cites schema.org, dbpedia, and wikidata
>
>     <sbp> not exactly a competitor to WolframAlpha though is it?
>
>     <sbp> funny, really. again one centralised site is the leader in a
>
>     space that should have been covered by Semantic Web technologies.
>
>     actually that would have been a really nice thing to push for.
>
>     probably still would be, though I tend to want my local computer to be
>
>     able to do those sorts of calculations
>
>     <sbp> like the other day I wanted to compute the prime factors of a
>
>     number. didn't really have anything lying around that does it in the
>
>     stdlib, so eventually I downloaded sage. but that's 4 GB of stuff!
>
>     you'd think we'd be able to get batteries included standard library
>
>     balances right by now
>
>     <sbp> .title https://www.quora.com/As-of-2015-is-the-semantic-web-dead
>
>     <yoleaux> As of 2015, is the semantic web dead? - Quora
>
>     <sbp> heh, hadn't seen http://5stardata.info/en/
>     <http://5stardata.info/en/> before
>
>     <sbp> Alan Morrison answers: "The thing about the semantic web idea is
>
>     that the development cycle has turned out to be the opposite of what
>
>     Tim Berners-Lee anticipated in the early 1990s. With the semantic web
>
>     concept, TBL hoped for a giant structured open web. What we got first
>
>     was a bunch of closed structured webs and a mixed web that still isn’t
>
>     very well structured."
>
>     <sbp> it's not like open things can't work. Wikipedia is a good
>
>     example of that, despite the deletionism
>
>     <sbp> Shidan Gouran: "Definitely RDF/XML is dead as a data exchange
>
>     format, and soon, XML will become obsolete as well, which is a good
>
>     thing."
>
>     <sbp> I haven't seen anything XML based in years, except I guess for
>
>     the continued use of SVG
>
>     <sbp> on the other hand
>
>     https://kidehen.blogspot.com/2015/09/what-happened-to-semantic-web.html
>
>     argues that the SW achieved what it set out to do, just somewhat
>
>     quietly
>
>     <sbp> it seems to base that conclusion on schema.org alone
>
>     <sbp> .title
>     https://medium.com/@dennybritz/the-semantic-web-is-dead-long-live-the-semantic-web-eddbca0a8b6
>
>     <yoleaux> The Semantic Web is dead. Long live the Semantic Web.
>
>     <sbp> "But let’s stop arguing over details and terminology. Let’s
>
>     forget about RDF, SPARQL, OWL, triple stores and quad stores for a
>
>     moment. Instead, let’s take a step back and look at the high-level
>
>     goal of the Semantic Web."
>
>     <sbp> yeah, well, it did get lost in those details
>
>     <sbp> kinda hard to ignore that
>
>     <sbp> "If you are a developer you may be able to query APIs or write a
>
>     custom scraper to get the data you need, and then write code to
>
>     aggregate them into something meaningful. But in many cases even that
>
>     wouldn’t be feasible due to technical, legal or time constraints."
>
>     <sbp> basically argues that the contemporary web didn't learn from the
>
>     Semantic Web at all
>
>     <sbp> also asks: "Did the API Economy succeed where the Semantic
>     Web failed?"
>
>     <sbp> I find the API economy such a pain in the arse. I tend to write
>
>     scrapers instead, because I find that those are usually more stable
>
>     than the APIs. it's ridiculous how often I have signed up for a key,
>
>     used a JSONic API, only to find that either the key issuing process
>
>     changes and I have to sign up for a new one, or the API breaks in any
>
>     of a myriad unfathomable ways
>
>     <sbp> "Technologies like JSON-LD may change this."
>
>     <sbp> I have never seen any JSON-LD
>
>     <sbp> three years ago:
>     https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8510401
>     <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8510401>
>
>     <sbp> "JSON-LD, which is a profound improvement on and compatible with
>
>     the original RDF, is the only web metadata standard with a viable
>
>     future."
>
>     <sbp> 'On a more down-to-earth level, there is now a solid web
>
>     metadata standard in place in JSON-LD. The big search engines index it
>
>     and presumably use it to give better results. Any startup can add
>
>     value to published data by adding links - in a significant extension
>
>     to the "API economy".'
>
>     <sbp> *lots* of chatter about JSON-LD here
>
>     <sbp> from 2010, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSON-LD
>     <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSON-LD>
>
>     <sbp> but it's funny because Wikipedia says: "The encoding is used by
>
>     Google Knowledge Graph[6] and others[who?]."
>
>     <sbp> one of the top results for JSON-LD is an SEO weblog saying: "In
>
>     this post, we'll shed some light on Schema.org and JSON-LD. What is it
>
>     and how can you put it to use for your website?"
>
>     <sbp> lots more SEO posts too
>
>     <sbp> something more recent:
>
>     https://blog.codeship.com/json-ld-building-meaningful-data-apis/
>
>     <sbp> so I guess JSON-LD was the latest fad, covering about 2010
>     to 2014
>
>     <sbp> mostly in conjunction with schema.org
>
>     <sbp> Manu Sporny on the creation of JSON-LD:
>
>     <sbp> "RDF is a shitty data model. It doesn’t have native support for
>
>     lists. LISTS for fuck’s sake! The key data structure that’s used by
>
>     almost every programmer on this planet and RDF starts out by giving
>
>     developers a big fat middle finger in that area."
>
>     <sbp> http://manu.sporny.org/2014/json-ld-origins-2/
>     <http://manu.sporny.org/2014/json-ld-origins-2/>
>
>     libby has left IRC (Quit: libby)
>
>     <sbp> I mean, it absolutely did have lists, and N3 showed how to do it
>
>     <sbp> it didn't have them as an enclosed object though. I wonder if it
>
>     should have done, a bit like how Haskell has Text now (opaque blob) as
>
>     well as String (inductive data structure)
>
>     <sbp> you can unpack one to get the other. Text is for
>
>     representational efficiency
>
>     <sbp> 'That said, after 7+ years of being involved with Semantic Web /
>
>     Linked Data, our company has never had a need for a quad store,
>
>     RDF/XML, N3, NTriples, TURTLE, or SPARQL. When you chair standards
>
>     groups that kick out “Semantic Web” standards, but even your company
>
>     can’t stomach the technologies involved, something is wrong.'
>
>     <sbp> now he can add JSON-LD to that list :-)
>
>     <sbp> lots of people I remember mentioned in the Postscript
>
>     <sbp> there's also a bit on
>
>     https://bibwild.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/is-the-semantic-web-still-a-thing/
>
>     which takes the Betteridge's law tack
>
>     <sbp> so we had the Semantic Web (2001-2005), Linked Data (2006-2010),
>
>     JSON-LD (2010-2014), and now the Data Activity (2015-) rump. some
>
>     interesting phases there. I stopped working on this in 2007, so that
>
>     explains why I hadn't heard of JSON-LD
>
>     <sbp> (actually I had)
>
>     <sbp> these days I tend to think that the problem with the Semantic
>
>     Web was not the Semantic part, it was the Web part. renting a domain
>
>     from ICANN, putting it through the torture of DNS, serving things over
>
>     HTTP/2 (Google Lightning™), through centralised CAs, it's not the
>
>     easiest thing to do and it's not the cheapest thing to do
>
>     <sbp> so people share through centralised services, and we get the
>
>     problem that Peter Mika pointed out
>
>     <sbp> but the original idea, which is something like upgrading the
>
>     lisp machine from trees to graphs (incurring a bunch of
>
>     algorithmically intractable problems like graph isomorphism in the
>
>     process, whoops! nobody ever said timbl was a great coder), making
>
>     symbols global and universal, and then linking together all the graphs
>
>     in a decentralised system, was actually a pretty good one
>
>     <sbp> if only we had a decentralised system to put it into, eh?
>
>     <sbp> these days we have the blockchain for name resolution, but
>
>     nobody has figured out a decent DNS alternative through it yet (there
>
>     have been many attempts). actually the best alternative is still Tor's
>
>     .onion, which is kinda funny. and as for decentralised storage, IPFS
>
>     was the closest there, but that seems to be losing traction too
>
>     <sbp> so no Semantic Decentralised Web is possible just yet
>
>     <sbp> so yeah, the Semantic Web may be out of the golden age, but I
>
>     think like lisp it'll be one of those things that sticks around and
>
>     gets rediscovered over and over, continually informing (and warning)
>
>     the future
>
>     -- 
>
>     Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/
>
Received on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:06:35 UTC

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