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Re: [ontolog-forum] Apple purchases Siri

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Dan Brickley <danbri@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 21:41:45 +0200
Message-id: <q2xeb19f3361004301241oe306e21drc9d77c762f9fe6b1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi John,    (01)

On Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 8:04 PM, John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On 4/30/2010 1:39 PM, Dan Brickley wrote:
> > You can think of the (Semantic) Web as a global shared map of the
> > connections between everything, if that's sufficiently ambitious...
> It's not ambitious at all.  Connecting everything is a prerequisite,
> but it doesn't give you semantics.    (02)

Everything is already connected; describing those connections is the
game we're in.
> I don't know anything about the innards of Siri, but I've known
> Tom Gruber for about 20 years.  And back then, he was using AI
> tools that were far more sophisticated than RDF and OWL.
> The point I keep emphasizing is that the word 'Web' narrows
> the focus of semantics, and the tools that have been provided
> are 30-year-old technology.    (03)

Absolutely nothing stops you publishing better data in the Web (or
other Internet-connected system). The culture, architecture,
technology and trends of the Web all point in this direction - many
data formats, healthy competition, and integration through some basic
pieces (eg URIs/IRIs). And if multiple independent software systems
can be persuaded do to useful things with what you publish, that's a
strong basis for persuading other publishers and consumers to do
likewise.    (04)

> I'm not saying that we should throw away RDF and OWL, but they're
> just baby steps toward semantics.    (05)

Absolutely, I can't disagree there. Getting this kind of thing adopted
as a standard is tough work, and slow. Certainly RDF'97 had flaws; the
spec was in many ways more 'evocative and intriguing' than something
engineers could code to. The 2004 specs (thanks to Pat Hayes and
others) were substantially better.    (06)

If you believe a different technology design would get faster adoption
or be otherwise more beneficial to humanity, I hope you submitted a
position paper to the upcoming 'RDF Next Steps' Workshop -
http://www.w3.org/2009/12/rdf-ws/cfp   --- it might not always seem
that way, but W3C is an organization that can change direction when
sufficient evidence is assembled.    (07)

I have a feeling we had this conversation a while ago on onto-std (are
complete archives online anywhere btw?), and I argued that 'baby
steps' were just what was needed if Web tech companies were going to
use RDF.    (08)

You suggested something similar yourself here,
http://www-ksl.stanford.edu/onto-std/mailarchive/0188.html  ---    (09)

"""All of this happens to look like a version of the linear notation
for conceptual graphs. In fact, RDF is essentially the "simple graph
subset of CGs, which was defined in _Conceptual Structures_ as CGs
with no negations, nested contexts, or quantifiers other than the
default existential.    (010)

What makes RDF important is not its theoretical sophistication, but the
fact that it has been adopted by the W3 consortium, which is supported
by all the big players, including IBM, Netscape, Microsoft, etc."""
(onto-std, 21 May 1998)    (011)

So, you were quite right. It's the adoption that matters. There are
ups and downs in the adoption story. Netscape no longer exists.
Mozilla has bits of RDF inside it, but the Mozilla team are generally
not very thankful for this state of affairs. Microsoft dabble with RDF
but haven't jumped in. And IBM are big enough that they can work on
anything.    (012)

The main difference today is the scale of public - and often linked -
RDF data that's out there; rather than any rich tooling or powerful
AI, RDF is today interesting in large part by virtue of the many
datasets available as RDF. And that grows by the day; in recent weeks
we've seen national libraries (Hungary:
Germany: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-lod/2010Apr/0321.html
and previously Sweden -
); govt datasets (data.gov.uk, UK mapping data, postcodes, ...).
Entertainment (all BBC programmes, Music from MusicBrainz, ...).    (013)

Last week Facebook launched their OpenGraphProtocol.org initiative,
adopting W3C RDFa as a notation for in-page metadata, and integrating
with their gigantic recommendations system. Various Facebook partner
sites were publishing RDFa already, others are still converting. Last
week SlideShare, this week RottenTomatoes.com. Facebook joins Google
Rich Snippets and Yahoo Searchmonkey as consumers of RDFa. Drupal 7
(which is claimed to back 1% of Web sites worldwide) will have rich
RDFa support "out of the box".    (014)

Each of these pages, sites or datasets might be semantically quite
trivial, but I can assure you it's not easy even getting such baby
steps out there. If you think we'd get further faster advocating for
another technology, I'm very willing to be persuaded. For me, RDF
(OWL, SPARQL, RDFa, etc) is just a means to an end - making it easier
to share and intermix data using the Web. If it's a baby step and
there's more power, flexibility and sophistication to come, so much
the better...    (015)

cheers,    (016)

Dan    (017)

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