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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Web shortcomings [was Re: ANN: GoodRelation

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ron Wheeler <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 14:41:27 -0400
Message-id: <48A32AD7.2030901@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I am not sure about the value of picking winners and losers.    (01)

I think that too much focus is on words and not enough on software 
engineering.    (02)

What I want are better tools for building applications that are based on 
the concepts behind the semantic web.
I would be happy if there were applications that actually could allow a 
SME to easily describe the relationships between things and tools that 
would let application developers build user friendly applications that 
could draw reasonable conclusions based on the relationships.    (03)

"What will happen if we turn off valve 298 in unit B?" What are the 
procedural steps required to verify that valve 298 can be closed safely?"    (04)

"What is the best insurance product that we have for a business owner 
with a wife and 2 kids in college?" What is the risk assessment for this 
farm? What would be the premium? What information is missing to complete 
this risk assessment?"    (05)

I would like a tool that will make it easy to build simulations and 
serious games based on simple scenarios added to a base ontology that 
describes a fair amount of the universe.    (06)

Ron    (07)

Ed Barkmeyer wrote:
> Ron Wheeler wrote:
>> Software Engineering is required if you actually want anything functional.
>> Otherwise all you get is words which is what we mostly have now.
> Absolutely.  But there is a difference between "heavy applications" with 
> "complex tools", that actually represent the results of design and 
> careful engineering, and hacking something with a Python workbench and 
> an RDB in a few hours.  If the market wants cheap knockoffs, they get 
> what they pay for.
> IMO, the reason for the lack of success in the noble endeavour that is 
> the Semantic Web is the competing noble endeavours Google and Wikipedia.
> They are all about finding the information you need.
> The Semantic Web idea is that experts annotate documents to put their 
> content in a perspective of the consensus knowledge in an area.  And if 
> what you are looking for is reliable content in any academic discipline, 
> this is the (long) established view of how to get it.  The only 
> difference is that we are trying to automate the knowledge association 
> and selection process.  The problem with the Semantic Web is that we 
> haven't yet made it easy for the experts to do the annotation, and there 
> is no existing critical mass of "consensus ontologies" that defines the 
> perspectives the experts want to refer to.  The entry cost of doing it 
> this way is high.
> The Google idea is that software can statistically annotate documents 
> according to what it actually sees in them.  The "semantics" of the 
> resulting linkages is "emergent", not "designed in".  This technique 
> makes a lot more information accessible, because it doesn't require the 
> experts and the established views.  But it assumes that in academic 
> disciplines what is actually available will be dominated by the works of 
> experts and by the established views.  The actual statistical 
> performance does not support this.  Many or most of the links are not 
> very reliable, because the published information is dominated by 
> students, marketers, bloggers, etc., only some of whom really are 
> experts.  Google is very effective at indexing information of all kinds, 
> and the cost for everyone but the Google organization is non-existent, 
> but for that reason, there is a definite caveat emptor.
> The Wikipedia idea is that a lot of basic knowledge can be gathered in a 
> theoretically expert reference that is maintained by a community, and 
> the community will be dominated by the consensus knowledge.  And that 
> has proved to be largely true.  At the same time, Wikipedia has "thought 
> police" whose duty is to eliminate articles they see as self-serving or 
> lacking a broad community of interest and expertise.  Quality has a 
> social and intellectual price.
> Which of these is the right way?  All of them.  Which will succeed? 
> Google and Wikipedia already have established themselves, but Wikipedia 
> will never be as broad as some would want, and Google will never be as 
> reliable.  And OBTW, _all_ of these required some serious engineering 
> and some very heavy software systems design.  Google, like Rome, was not 
> built in a day.
> But the Semantic Web is suffering from another malady -- infighting. 
> The Semantic Web is currently an "anti-social network".  Ontology 
> development and document annotation is largely funded by 
> government-provided research money, and too much effort is being spent 
> on directing the flow of the water to the favorite mill and too little 
> on grinding the grain.  If we really want the Semantic Web to succeed, 
> we have to declare some winners and some losers and get on with the 
> work.  (See disclaimer below. ;-))
> -Ed
>       (08)

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