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[ontolog-forum] Webs and Fabrics

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 12:38:22 -0400
Message-id: <4CC703FE.5030803@xxxxxxxxxxx>
There's an interesting new language and system designed for secure,
distributed computing.  The language, called Jif (Java + Information
Flow), extends Java with "policies", and the system is called Fabric
because "Fabric is more useful and more tightly connected than webs."    (01)

See below for references to Fabric, Jif, and related articles.
But the main point I want to make in this note is the contrast
between the methods for developing Fabric and the Semantic Web:    (02)

  1. The SemWeb began with an inspiring, but rather vague speech
     by Tim B-L about adding semantics to the URIs of the WWW.
     At that level of detail, nobody could object.    (03)

  2. The W3C, which met for the first time at the 1994 conference
     where Tim gave that speech, took charge of the design and
     development of the SemWeb.    (04)

  3. Like any design by committee (cf. Fred Brooks' book), the
     SemWeb was pulled in different directions by experts with
     competing visions of the goals, technology, and methodology.    (05)

  4. As a result, the only consensus on architectural document was
     the familiar layer cake, which emphasized syntax over semantics.    (06)

  5. The most widely used technology that came out of the SemWeb
     was the lowest common denominator with the barest minimum of
     semantics:  RDF.    (07)

  6. The components above the RDF level have not been integrated
     with each other or with the mainstream of IT software, and
     very few IT developers have found any reason to use them.    (08)

I don't know whether Jif and Fabric are going to be more successful,
but their approach is the best way to develop a major new design:
a small group doing focused research with prototype implementations
to check how and whether the ideas work in practice.    (09)

Doing advanced R & D in a small group (or "skunk works") has always
been far more successful than design by committee.  As a classic
example that succeeded beyond the designers' wildest dreams, see
the Oak project at Sun, which became Java:    (010)

    https://duke.dev.java.net/green/    (011)

As Yogi B. said, "Prediction is very hard, especially about the future."
But I don't believe that any of the current components of the SemWeb
are going to survive without a total overhaul or complete replacement.
Instead, we can expect some small group working in skunk-works mode
to produce a truly Semantic Fabric.    (012)

John Sowa
_____________________________________________________________________    (013)

Following is a brief article about Fabric from Dr. Dobb's Journal:    (014)

http://www.drdobbs.com/article/printableArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=0SGXWQQMVBVOTQE1GHPSKHWATMY32JVN?articleId=227900404&dept_url=/java/    (015)

Following is a 16-page paper:    (016)

    http://www.cs.cornell.edu/andru/papers/fabric-sosp09.pdf    (017)

And following is the web page for Jif, which also contains URLs
for 40 related publications:    (018)

    http://www.cs.cornell.edu/jif/    (019)

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