Over the years there have been a lot of persistent myths about the Semantic Web. Really, I can’t blame people too much. The ‘new’ Web has a pretty cryptic name, it’s been a long time coming, and the benefits of this 3rd generation Web infrastructure take some pretty serious geek-cred to really understand. But despite all these good reasons for regular folk to be confused about the Semantic Web, it’s the people who should know better and still spread mis-truths that really get me frustrated!
Truth: Far from it! I spend a lot of pages in this book describing the real-deal, functional, here-today, make-your-life-better-now Semantic Web applications and Web sites that you can use today. You don’t need Asimov to enjoy the Semantic Web!
Truth: Tagging Web sites is about 1% of the power of the Semantic Web. Yes, you can do it, you can do it manually, you can do it using automated engines, you can even have Web 2.0 style crowd generated tags in Semantic Web format… but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine all the different Web site tags in the world linked up automatically to all the best online reference databases in the world…connected to the data on your harddrive and your business’ enterprise software systems like for business intelligence… yeah, folks are already building that today.
Truth: Google is a wildly successful win-at-all-costs Ad company. The Semantic Web is a technology vision for how our global Internet infrastructure will evolve to accommodate semi-structured data on the Web. Even if the Semantic Web utopian vision could magically appear tomorrow (it can’t), and all the old non-Semantic Web data disappeared (it won’t), we’d still need Google (or something like it) for all sorts of Web applications. All those startups looking to shoot down the Google-star with Semantic Web are barking up the wrong tree!
Truth: A little semantics goes a long way. For those who really understand the Web, and data, we know that our current Internet is still interoperating on 20 year old infrastructure, 30 year old protocols, and 40 year old ideas. The full vision of the Semantic Web doesn’t have to be adopted for it to “succeed” – even a little bit better meaning in our data relationships, or a wee bit better ways to put some structure to our Web data can be a game-changer in the decades long evolution of the Web. Take the long-view folks, things don’t change overnight.
Truth: What’s so bad about having a way to catalog all that data on the Web? Sure, the Web isn’t some kind of giant library, with a gi-normous card catalog system cross-referenced by author, title and subject…would that be so bad? Anyway, calling the Semantic Web a “catalog system” is like saying that Melvil Dewey invented numbers. There isn’t any inherent subjects, data model, or ontology defined in the Semantic Web, it’s just a way of modeling data, any data, about Web sites, your business’ finances, or your mom’s knitting club.. the Semantic Web just gives data modelers a way to make better models.