By bblfish on Apr 19, 2007
The Supply Chain is dead. Long live the Supply Network!
Ok, that's my take on a very interesting presentation that was given by two young researchers at the Semantic Desktop Workshop in Berlin I attended last week (as attested by numerous photos posted on flickr). In their Amerigo presentation, Sonja Pajkovska-Goceva and Fanny Kozanecki, made a very clear point: in the interconnected world we live in, speaking of supply chains is old hat - companies have complex interrelated supply networks, where one supplier depends on another which in turns depends on a further one, some or more of which may depend on each other. The quality of the network is important in many different ways, perhaps the most topical being to do with the environment. It is no good to outsource your pollution to third world countries; a company is responsible not only for their pollution, but for the pollution of all the players in their supply network: that is their direct suppliers, but also the suppliers of their suppliers, and so on. Being green would be too easy if one could just outsource the dirty part of one's business to Africa...
So in their presentation Sonja and Fanny worked on putting together an ontology for a supply chain network using the Protege Ontology editor. Starting with very little knowledge of the Semantic Web, they have been able to put together a small ontology quite quickly as a proof of concept. Protege is still rough around the edges at times. There are other editors out there such as SWOOP or Top Braid Composer, but none of them are as slick as tools that Java Programmers are used to such as NetBeans or IntelliJ. Still that they got this far is a good sign as to how far we have come. (Btw. I still prefer to edit ontologies by hand using N3 and vim, but I only recommend that with care).
Tools aside, having developed such an ontology, it is easy to see how in the future every product every company will produce will have its own URL, describing what it is made of (further urls) and where it was shipped and to whom. You think we are being open now? Wait until every product, and every action has one too! What we have now is a like a grimy yellowed window compared to the transparency to come.
The Semantic Web is clickable data.