I just came across a post from Murray Altheim on the XTM list
( which strikes me as raising rather a good issue. I
hope he will forgive me for quoting him completely out of context -

"...might anyone actually *define* the "Semantic Web", and I don't mean some
rather vague notion
of adding "knowledge on the web." What real problem(s) are you actually
trying to solve? What possible software do you plan to implement, or
could even conceive of implementing?  I don't know how anyone could
define a set of deliverables very well given the rather ambiguous or
nonexistent requirements. All I've seen so far are vague notions of
metadata and ontologies, technologies that already exist."

I've a feeling the tone of this was rather set by preceding mails (Murray?),
but there's no denying the point that there's a lot of vagueness around. A
semantic cloud even.

Maybe things could be clarified through a survey :

1. What are the problems (clearly defined in black & white) that the SW
system will solve?

2. What are the (clearly identified) goals? (particularly those that have
already been reached or are likely to be reached in the near future)

3. What new (clearly defined) opportunities will be enabled by the SW?

and what about a progress report :

4. Approximately how many web sites are incorporating metadata in a
'Semantic Web' fashion? (by which I mean something a little more than HTML
meta tags - maybe if the figure was quoted for the use of RDF?)

5. How many agents are active in a 'Semantic Web' fashion? (again, something
a little more than a traditional search engine or a non-reasoning feed)

6. How many end users are currently benefitting from the SW?

7. How many will be in a year's time? (5 years?)

8. When will the SW appear in an edition of 'The Road Ahead' as 'what I
planned all along'?

I personally feel that the combination of the metadata/ontologies &
reasoning agents will yield some pretty amazing results, including many that
we haven't even thought of yet, but that is most certainly being vague.

Danny Ayers

Received on Tuesday, 1 May 2001 12:34:17 UTC