Semanticweb meet Slashdot

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Interesting Slashdot thread about how Lehigh University is going to build the Semantic Web all by itself.

Computer scientist Jeff Heflin and others are building the Semantic Web, which they hope will handle more data, resolve contradictions and draw inferences from users’ queries. The new improved Web will also combine pieces of information from multiple sites in order to find answers to questions.

My reaction on reading this? Anyone that writes something like …are building _the_ Semantic Web, like it’s an object you can buy from Amazon, with easy to follow instructions doesn’t know beans about the ’small s, small w’ semantic web. It’s more than just the ontologies and the syntax, and more than technology. It’s about how to get people to buy into all of this. It’s about taking that same low cost to entry that allowed web pages to explode, and applying it to meaning as well as content. It’s about getting just plain Joe and Jane to go ‘cool’ and want to be a part of it–not just the geeks and science studs.

I do agree with the good doctor that we need to find a way to resolve contradictory ontologies, though I think we have the method for merging ontologies (i.e. RDF and OWL). But none of this matters if we can’t get buy-in to annotate data with meaning. So far, we’re not reaching beyond the science of the tech, to the people. And it’s more than the fact that all of this effort is young – it’s as if we see the non-tech as passive users of the semantic web, rather than active participants.

Sometimes I think that most people who work on the Semantic Web (the big letter fellow), don’t have a clue what it’s all about. It leads to wonder how much respect these folks have for those outside of their circles.

(This attitude, of course, being why I’m not on anyone’s Christmas Card list.)

The slashdotters get it:

The whole reason the web is popular is because it’s trivially simple to create content for it. Maybe the web would be more useful if it was like a giant encyclopedia but it’s just an exercise in futility unless everyone gets on board.

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