SemWeb Next Big Thing or Vaporware?

@bex asks Twitter if SemWeb will be the next big thing or if its just more vaporware. The premise of the question is wrong methinks. If Web 2.0 was a big thing but not because someone came out with the one killer app. Rather it was an evolution of technology and infrastructure that allowed the social expectations of users to be met online. Was Facebook the beginning of Web 2.0? Was AJAX? Was Napster (the original not the relaunch)? Was Web 2.0 vaporware before these?

no.

Rather Web2.0 emerged as the name for a collection of usage patterns and enabling technologies.

I think the same is/will be true of Semantic Web (or Web 3.0 or SemWeb or the Data Driven Web). Read what Hendler and Lassila (PDF warning) have to say:

Although Semantic Web proponents have long seen evidence of growing
interest, the technology’s success has become far more evident in the past few months. This is largely because of the maturing of the RDF languages and the technologies that support them. Oracle’s July 2005 release of RDF support in its Spatial 10.2g database product provided the legitimacy that some felt the language lacked. As people experimented with RDF databases, they found significant advantages over traditional structured databases in many cases, especially with respect to embedding data on the Web.

SemWeb is and will continue to emerge, though slowly and as a feature/function of an application, web site, or tool. It is not an end in itself, but rather a way that other systems make use of content.

As such it's probably not relevant to talk about Sem web as either the "next big thing" or "vaporware".

But that's just my $.02.

You should read more about SemWeb and the confluence of Social Web 2.0 capabilities HERE.

Comments:

Been interesting to read some of the back-and-forth between yourself and Mr Bex about Semantic Web and what to expect of it (whatever 'it' turns out to be in the end). The question really is whether there is any advantage - any at all - to representing data in RDF as opposed to standard relational DBs; and then secondly whether there's value in developing those complex spaghetti structures known as ontologies over the top of that. If there is, then it's worth investing time into creating tools to make this stuff (since nobody is going to write their own RDF, and few are going to write ontologies). *Then* and only then come the more social questions of how to deal with issues like trust, representation of opinions/fact, provenance of information, conflicting truths, spam etc. At that stage it's Web Science... but if we get that far, then it will show that RDF is not completely worthless. My point: given the recent (last 18 months - 2 years) explosion of RDF "out there" in the wild internet - increase from 500 million to about 23 billion triples - we will soon see whether there's any real advantage to publishing your data in RDF or not. There's already "semantic search engine" stuff going on - Google use a form of it for some queries - but that's not really the Semantic Web. The question is, is it worth it? The RDF hasn't been out there before, it now is. Who's going to use it, and for what? And if nobody uses it? ... I suspect the next 5 years will be more interesting that the last 5 for the Semantic Web. I'm actually giving a presentation called 'UCM and the Semantic Web' at Collaborate in May... by the sounds of things, I should leave lots of time for questions... Duncan

Posted by Duncan on February 13, 2009 at 03:22 AM CST #

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