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Real World Semantic Web Tools?

From: Mansur Darlington <ensmjd@bath.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 14:41:44 +0000
Message-ID: <402B90A8.7030807@bath.ac.uk>
Cc: semanticweb@yahoogroups.com, kaw@swi.psy.uva.nl, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

First, an apology for cross-posting this.

This is a plea for help, from some fairly non-techy information users, 
but we feel it might strike a chord of recognition across interest groups!

We are trying to explore the practical benefits that developing Semantic 
Web technologies might have to offer for improving access to information 
for engineering designers. As part of this effort we wish to demonstrate 
the advantages of SW technologies over conventional information search 
and retrieval approaches (assuming there really are any!).

Using a document test-bed and a couple of ontologies developed weve 
demonstrated some of the potential benefits that can be achieved (akin 
to those found in any basic RDF primer or the like). We now wish to 
provide a more realistic practical demonstration of the benefits (and 
the associated costs and difficulties associated with the 
semantification process) using a range of tools that have been 
developed by the SW community.

These would include:
1) Ontology creation and lifecycle management (e.g. Protégé, OilED, 
OntoEdit, etc.)
2) An annotator for constructing mark-up documents from the corpus, or 
marked-up proxy documents (e.g. OntoMat, MnM, etc.).
3) A means for capturing and representing axioms or rules which 
formalize useful inferences in the domain (e.g. using the above).
4) An interface that invites the construction of queries (e.g. plugins 
for the above).
5) An accessible query engine which will handle querying and inferencing 
(using the axioms/rules) and present the result in a useful way.

We have done our best to identify - from the hundreds of applications 
available  those which: (i) work reliably (ii) have compatible inputs 
and outputs (iii) can be *used* and understood by end information 
users (we are not programmers!).

Despite our efforts we are having remarkably little success. On the one 
hand we are overwhelmed by the amount of information that is available 
on Semantic Web topics, on the other we have found that much of the 
information is completely inscrutable.

Fundamentally our questions are: Is it that the tools which we require 
are simply too immature (or dont yet exist) or that substantially more 
technical expertise is needed to use what is available than can be 
reasonably expected from information users?

Comments or help in answering these questions from the Semantic Web 
community would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Mansur Darlington and Al Lowe

Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Bath
Received on Thursday, 12 February 2004 09:44:09 UTC

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