semantic web bashing

Mon, Jan 24, 2005

The Semantic Web, to me, has always been a bit of a wonky idea. Machines talking to machines, using machine language but there’s a debate whether they should use XML or RDF. XML is designed for human interpretation. Think not? Then why does it take account of whitespace? So, you come to XML thinking you can create XML using notepad and you can. Then you buy Java for dummies and try the same using the Java XML bindings and you die horribly in namespaces. The human readable part is a facade, behind which, the guts have been removed and replaced with a machine view of the world.

In Stephen Downe’s interpretation: “…The Semantic Web (in capitals) is something hard-edged Java gurus write…And it is therefore (to the vast majority of people) useless.

Strong words indeed. I tend to agree, it is pretty useless to Joe Public and his community website. If FrontPage don’t do it, Joe Public ain’t gonna do it either. Stephen trumpets RSS as the saviour of the Semantic Web but the first commenter of his article admits to a ignorance of what RSS is! If the populace can’t come to terms with what’s on offer, then they just won’t use it.

The gospel according to Stephen is:

  • if you can’t do it simply, with a simple text-editor, a web server and a standard browser, it’s broken
  • if you can’t say what you want to say with it, it’s broken
  • if you can’t link, it’s broken
  • if you can’t find it, it doesn’t exist

Read Whither the Semantic Web

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