It's About the Meta-Data

Our advisor Paul Ford, has replied to Clay Shirky’s critique of the Semantic Web with a truly excellent articleabout why the Semantic Web is indeed practical. I found Clay’s article to be very one-sided. Like Paul, I agree with Clay that the futuristic goals of some Semantic Web researchers in academia are well…futuristic. Here at Radar Networks we don’t have such lofty goals — we are not trying to transform the Web into a gigantic automated syllogism solver. Indeed, resolving logical expressions from shards of RDF scattered across millions of Web pages is a nearly intractable problem today and we would not attempt that. Instead, our interest is in making it easier for individuals and applications to share reusable chunks of metadata. I don’t believe that individuals will (or even should) write RDF by hand and just stick it on their pages. I believe we need to provide tools that will help them express their ideas in a natural, human-centric way, without burdening them with the underlying RDF, RDFS, OWL, and the tasks of knowledge engineering. Our software provides that layer of user-friendliness that is missing from current Semantic Web efforts.

2 thoughts on “It's About the Meta-Data

  1. The original essay reminded me of another article
    Clay Shirky wrote for
    “Web Services: It’s So Crazy, It Just Might Not Work”
    Web services and the semantic web have many
    similarities, but there is one in particular
    that Clay’s curmudgeonry demonstrates in these
    essays: both web services and semantic web have
    been oversold and consequently misunderstood.
    It’s interesting to see how some people view
    the semantic web as an attempt to create
    a complete copy of the world(one is plenty!).
    The semantic web addresses specific and very real
    problems in managing distributed information. Just
    as the web is not Russell and Whitehead’s Principia
    Mathematica, the semantic web is not an automated theorem
    prover. Clay’s refutation of it as such is not criticism,
    it is a change of subject.

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