March 19, 2005

Semantic web is not a myth: it's a future reality



I just finished reading this old post that talk about the myth of Semantic Web. The two points of the author are:


1.      Pure laziness.  It's extra work to tag everything with metadata.

2.      RDF is nearly impossible to understand.  That's the biggest rub.  RDF, like so many other standards to come out of IETF/W3C is almost incomprehensible to anyone who didn't write the standard.


The thing is that RDF is not intended to be easily understood by humans like simple XML documents. RDF is intended to be understood by machines. It's a really basic ontology language. RDF and RDFS are flexible but not as expressive as we would like. Itís why other ontology languages have been created.


I said that this is a simple language... for machine, not for us. The thing is that I think that we need such languages in the future to be able to handle the mass of information that the Internet became.


It's why we will need to build applications that will build these file for us. It's what misses the Semantic Web: an infrastructure of fully integrated, and easy to use, user applications.


Semantic Web is not a myth, it's a future reality. It's at his infancy and it will grow. RSS is a result of the Semantic Web. Mr Cauldwell also said:


"The closest that anyone has come to using RDF in any real way is RSS, which has turned out to be so successful because it is accessible.  It's not hard to understand how RSS is supposed to work, which is why it's not really RDF. "


He is right, but the thing is that we will need to develop applications to get these ease to create and understand RSS files and migrate them, automatically, in a more expressive ontological language like RDF or OWL. It'll not be our job; it will be the job of applications. Why? Because these languages aren't suitable for humans.


Think about the infancy of computer programming. We first started to code in assembler. It was a simple wrapper on machine code but it was not really suitable for humans to use. Eventually we created upper level languages, like C or Pascal to handle the suitability problem. They were much more comprehensive for humans. This was their only task: be comprehensible to human programmers. This is how it works: a special application transforms the human readable code in C in a less readable code in assembly to finally be converted in machine code incomprehensible to humans but fully understood by machines. It' the same thing we will need to do with these languages.

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