Arguing The Semantic Web: Dead Or Just Not Alive?

    May 17, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The language used to describe the Semantic Web is complicated enough – at a glance, it looks a bit quantum theory-ish, just enough to make your eyes roll back into your head to look for ways to kill themselves – but Tim Berners-Lee, who’s responsible for all those Ws littering your URLs, inspired enough faith that whatever the Semantic Web was, it could be accomplished.

Semantic Web developer Mor Naaman, however, amidst a now somewhat miffed semantic Web developer crowd, pulled rank and declared the semantic Web dead. A researcher at Yahoo Research Berkeley, Naaman presented his case at the International World Wide Web Conference in Alberta, Canada.

Naaman relegated Berners-Lee’s vision of a cooperative Web where people and machines get along in digitized, organized artificial intelligence harmony via tags (told ya, this is some heady, quantum stuff) to a pipe dream. Naaman reminds Berners-Lee that people, in general, especially collectively, just ain’t that bright.

The Semantic Web, you see, relies in large part on people tagging their online media in a rather standardized, academic, high-minded, meaningful, and structured way. And Naaman thinks that’s too much to ask:

There is no way that we can engage the masses in annotating media with “semantic” labels. At best, we can get the people to annotate content (such as Flickr images or YouTube videos) with short text descriptions or tags.  

Hmmm, yes, very Aristotelian. I like it. Sounds like Naaman’s actually observed the primates in question. (Down the block from me, one of these primates spray-painted his name on the road with stencil. It’s not a complicated name, a four-letter smacker, spelled J-A-K-C, apparently.)

Naaman modified his original use of the word "dead," as it was intended more as a conversation-starter, opting for something closer to unachievable.

Certainly, Berners-Lee has wowed the world in the past. It wouldn’t be surprising if he heard rhetoric like this before his historic launch of an HTML page. So what does ol’ TBL have to say about it? Let’s check his blog.

He says "blogging is great" … um, at least he thought so last November.