W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-ws-arch@w3.org > August 2002

RE: Choreography and the Semantic Web

From: Champion, Mike <Mike.Champion@SoftwareAG-USA.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2002 22:40:19 -0400
Message-ID: <9A4FC925410C024792B85198DF1E97E403C0995B@usmsg03.sagus.com>
To: www-ws-arch@w3.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Baker [mailto:distobj@acm.org]
> Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2002 5:55 PM
> To: Christopher B Ferris
> Cc: www-ws-arch@w3.org
> Subject: Choreography and the Semantic Web
> HTML, by virtue of being a very general format for human consumption
> (i.e. all resources can have an HTML representation), solved this
> problem for humans because there came an expectation that if you said
> "Accept: text/html", you'd get something for the vast majority of
> resources.  What we need, is a similar format/model for machines, such
> as RDF.

Or SOAP+WSDL+WSCI+etc.  Isn't the main axis of cleavage here between those
who use today's tools to build specialized XML schemas for describing web
services, defining conversations, etc.  on one hand; and those who would
prefer a generic semantics/ontology definition language that handles these
as special cases, on the other?  

> Not if it were programmed to deal with this type of uncertainty.  This
> is the partial understanding[1] problem.  The agent may not 
> know what a
> questionaire is, but it can assume it's ok to ignore it (hence the
> need for mandatory extensions in RDF), and proceed to the next step.

I think this demonstrates my point.  The proposals we're discussing seem to
be written by people trying to do with with today's technology, hard-coding
syntax onto semantics. They can point to a large body of experience that
does similar things, albeit with less interoperability or scalability than
the Web technologies have exhibited.  It would seem that those who say that
it should be done with RDF, DAML-S, OWL, or whatever are looking to the
future.  Maybe it's a gap in my education, but I don't know of existing
large-scale commercial systems that use agents that handle the partial
understanding problem, or employ RDF-based technologies in the way being
described here.  

Is there some modus vivendi possible here? ... along the lines of a WSA
framework that is rich to describe the *principles* of coordination,
conversations, reliability in a useful way that is abstract enough to be
implemented with either a stack of special purpose schemas and layers on top
of SOAP, or with specific ontologies expressed in a general purpose semantic

> I think that the principle reason it isn't accessible, is not because
> the work isn't ready; it is ready in the sense that no more 
> research is
> required.  But standardization is.  The reason it isn't accessible is
> that the *tools* aren't ready.  There's no "libwww" for the Semantic
> Web, yet.

In my humble, personal, not-speaking-from-the-chair opinion, this sounds
like an old, old story in the software industry: the "next big thing"
supposedly can't get off the ground because standards need to be put in
place, or tools need to be built, or the guardians of the old paradigm have
to die out or give up so that the new can flourish. (Sorry, I know SW people
hate being compared to AI people, but this argument is eerily similar to AI
advocacy circa 1985.)  The trouble is that the the really good ideas succeed
despite all this, most notably the World Wide Web. [See Clayton
Christensen's THE INNOVATORS DILEMMA for a bunch of other examples of
"disruptive" innovations in a wide variety of fields]. Web standards were
initially built in order to control the explosion of innovative ideas that
threatened the interoperability of the Web, they weren't needed to produce
widespread adoption.  Tools were created to meet the demand, they weren't
needed to create the demand for web pages, CGI scripts, etc.  And the old
guard might not have been the first to jump on the Web bandwagon, but they
didn't try to stop it either (I guess they ignored the bandwagon until it
was obvious that it was time to jump on, and they did so with a vengance).

As I see it, the WSA has to rise above the alphabet soup of the various
proposed standards du jour, but we can't rise up into the clouds and expect
the semantic web technologies to sort it out someday Real Soon Now either. .
We have to make sense out of today's technology as it is applied to real
problems (as the WSCI, WS-Coordination, WS-Transaction, etc. proposals try
to do), and we have to leave room for this to be subsumed by
RDS/DAML-S/OWL-based tools when/if they mature.  
Received on Saturday, 10 August 2002 22:40:22 UTC

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