RDF Semantics


From Jamie Pitts an article in the Guardian Spread the Word, and Join Up. In it, Tim Berners-Lee is quoted from a recent talk about new directions in RDF and the Semantic Web. I can agree with him when he says, The nice thing about RDF data is you can merge it.

More than a ‘nice’ thing–to me, it’s the key to the concept, and what sets it apart from any other data model.

Tim B-L goes on to talk about new directions in semantic web effort, including getting data out on the web:

Berners-Lee did concede that as with the world wide web, the semantic web should “serve useful stuff”. “One of the problems we’ve actually had with the semantic web, I only recently realised, is we haven’t been doing that.”

Not enough useful RDF data has been left online, he explained: “The whole value-add of the web is serendipitous re-use: when you put it out there for one person, and it gets used by who-knows-who. We want to put data out there for one purpose, then find it gets linked into all kinds of data. And that’s been not happening, because we forgot ’serve useful stuff’, not to mention ‘make useful links’.”

It’s a direction many of us have followed, without necessarily any positive acknowledgement from the greater Semantic Web community. I can read with relief the new directions Tim B-L perceives, but then I’m puzzled when he continues with:

Berners-Lee told his audience in Oxford that the semantic web has already been adopted in drug discovery in life sciences, where solutions represent cures for diseases. “People in these fields are bright and intelligent, they are early adopters, they have quite a lot of money to throw at a problem,” he said. “We have an incubator community there.”

Genome data could be extremely helpful for the medical community, but I wouldn’t necessarily see this as a way to make RDF ubiquitous. I would wish that the W3C would stop focusing on Grand and Glorious data uses. We all can’t be research scientists.

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