Where's the Semantic Web excitement?

by Dan Zambonini

Last year, I suggested that the Web 2.0 hype could be partly responsible for a lack of interest in the Semantic Web.

Google Trends can't prove this, but the results of search volume for "Web 2.0" against "RDF" shows a worrying state of play for the Semantic Web crowd.


Simon Hibbs
2006-05-11 05:25:39
They're screwed (the Semantic Web crowd). Sorry, it's a nice idea but I've yet to see even a basic, simple implementation of a usefull system. Where are the semantic Web Apps, or demo networks? It's been years and years, with no apparent practical results.

MAybe I'm wrong, maybe there are loads of useful SW apps out there, but where's the visibility? Where's the buzz? And if there aren't any usefull apps, why not? What's wrong with the architecture that it's so incredibly hard to come up with something after all this time?

Brendan Taylor
2006-05-11 06:38:24
Well, there's the SPARQL calendar demo . FOAF has been steadily gaining support, and MusicBrainz has been serving up RDF for years now. The tech is said to be widely used in biomedical circles, so the fact that you're not seeing it doesn't mean it's not being used.

The architecture's just fine, the problem is a dearth of useful public data (in any machine-readable format, not just RDF).

Dan Zambonini
2006-05-11 06:53:33
Brendan is right - there is a lot of good, solid Semantic Web work happening out there, and of course the Semantic Web is never 'meant' to be seen. Mozilla also uses RDF, of course, and I've talked to people in many 'closed' circles (health research, crime, terrorism) who are also using semantic techologies internally.

It's just a shame that it doesn't have any kind of buzz amongst developers, only a niche few.

It reminds me of something I read a few days ago - it's easy to build complex systems up from simple ones (e.g. complex Web 2.0 mash-ups that are built on simpler technologies), but going straight into building complex systems (which anything involving triples databases and SPARQL usually is...) is so much more difficult. The base-level of complexity that you need to break through to currently build SW applications is just too high.

2006-05-11 08:03:55
Ummm... you may want to look at Thinkstream and Metatomix. Ontology driven massive indexing is alive and well. I suspect that Googling for a simple count doesn't account for the complexity or cost of a system that does use semantic web tech.

BTW, also note the number of patent pending notices in these companies. That will screw the SemWeb far more effectively than the overhyped meme that is Web 2.0.

Kurt Cagle
2006-05-11 09:45:42
Look at Web 2.0 as being an intermediate state. Bottom up architectures (which I see Web 2.0 being) are good for prototyping (another word for Mash-ups) but already there are significant issues emerging from the folksonomy crowd about namespace collision, ambiguity and lock-in of functionality that limits expressiveness and flexibility in most Web 2 systems. I see the same thing happening on the forms side, as the AJAX-based systems end up just pushing ad-hoc development onto the client without any thought about larger data flow and data management issues.

Once you get beyond the fairly simple consumer use case scenarios, I suspect you'll see more ready adoption of declarative architectures pretty much at all levels, including RDF and XForms, while the AJAX components increasingly become abstracted behind XML namespaces of their own. It'll take time, just as it has taken time for every other declarative XML technology to gain adoption.