Semantic Web Hype

Last week I was at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2006) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and apart from meeting people and talking, I was invited at the last minute by Mark Greaves to speak on a panel titled Web 2.0 and delighted to do so. I presented a few slides discussing how I thought the ideas behind Web 2.0 overlap and fit with the semantic web idea of sharing and connecting data and enabling people to do more with open data. This reflected on an earlier ISWC2006 keynote Where the Social Web Meets the Semantic Web (PowerPoint) by Tom Gruber of RealTravel. which explains the ideas in detail. Also worth checking out his Ontology of Folksonomy: A Mash-up of Apples and Oranges.

I also revealed for the first time in public that the new Yahoo! Food web site had some content contained in RDF triples This seems to have been exagerated slightly in repeating as I see that Nova Spivak wrote:

Yahoo (Yahoo Food is built on the Semantic Web)

which is not fully correct. A small part of the many technologies involved includes some semantic web technology (OWL, RDF, SPARQL) as well as many others. At just over 1 year into my work at Yahoo! we have reached the first use in production of OWL and RDF in a small way and are looking at further steps, none of which I’m revealing.

One of the questions to the panel asked about how to improve the promotion of the ideas of the semweb and I jokingly asked if we needed a Semantic Web Hype Initiative. I think not! I don’t need a new buzzphrase like Web 3.0 as described by Markoff in in Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense in the New York Times (fake registration required to read it).

Instead we should show how you don’t need to boil the ocean of semantics such as applying a big pile of technologies or requiring something fragile like a single web-wide ontology – wrong, wrong wrong. Start from concrete data-centric approaches that build up to use layers of technology solutions to different problems as they emerge, only if needed and demonstrating usefulness at each stage.

Technorati Tags: semantic web, web 2.0

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