Friday, June 29, 2007

re-post: The Semantic 404

A re-post of the same text that was on my previous blog... unfortunately, the links are scraped out of it... if I get ambitious I will edit this post and put them back in:

Hello from the Banff WWW2007 post-mortem.

I'm befuddled! A couple of days ago a significant member of the SWHCLS community indicated that it didn't matter if URI's resolved or not, and that we could build the SW without resolution.

...My brain hurts!

What confuses me is why so many people perceive the Semantic Web to be such a different animal from the World Wide Web. Is there anyone on earth who would have said "who cares if your hyperlinks don't resolve, build the Web anyway!" Of course not! Ben and I have been harping on about this for ages, but even those who cite our Creeps paper still don't seem to "get it"... or at least, don't seem to care.

The Semantic Web is, first and foremost, a Web based technology. The problem is that the community leaders seem to be focusing on "Semantic" rather than on "Web", and that (IMO) spells death for the SWHCLS initiative. Sure, we can get Semantic Web-like behaviours by building local semantically-enabled data warehouses, but that isn't the Semantic Web. Would the Web ever have come into being if none of the URLs resolved? Of course not. And neither will the Semantic Web.

Until then, all we have created is the "Semantic 404", and that's not much good to anyone is it, be honest :-)

Apparently there's going to be a special meeting of the SWHCLS working group at noon today... fingers crossed that something great comes out of this meeting - perhaps the SWHCLS will begin today!!

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