"If the Semantic Web were ever going to fail..."

According to Tim Berners-Lee: "The Semantic Web is a Web that includes
documents, or portions of documents, describing explicit relationships
between things and containing semantic information intended for automated
processing by our machines." [1]
The problem is, out of the WWW as we have today, how much of it is intended
for automated processing by our machines? Although all of it gets
processed, 99% of it is there for human consumption. The very reason I
started swi-dev was to investigate if the Semantic Web would be for
machines or humans. I believe that all of the useful things at the moment
in RDF have to be done with prose descriptions: look at RDF Schemas and
compare to the DC and RSS specifications. The Schema layer, when applied to
RDF, will be the downfall of the Semantic Web, simply because it isn't
viable to apply XML Schemas to RDF.
That's not to say that RDF isn't going to be useful. We already have RSS
and DC, and EDL is on its way (I hope). It's just that I don't see much of
a future for a "machines talking to machines" Web, if there aren't any
moves to make the human interaction to it as seamless as possible.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong. To quote Edd's recent XML.com article [2]:
"Encouraging the audience to share his excitement at the vision,
Berners-Lee related how difficult it was ten years ago when he was
demonstrating the Web for the first time. Viewers seeing him progress from
one document to another by clicking on links were nonplussed -- it's when
the system scales that the advantages may be reaped."

This was originally titled "Why the Semantic Web will fail", but I think
even if the Semantic Web didn't take off in the same way as the WWW, it
will still be useful.

[1] http://www.w3.org/1999/04/WebData
[2] http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2000/12/xml2000/timbl.html

Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
http://www.w3.org/WAI/ [ERT/GL/PF]
"Perhaps, but let's not get bogged down in semantics."
   - Homer J. Simpson, BABF07.

Received on Tuesday, 19 December 2000 06:52:06 UTC