Saturday, February 16, 2008

11 Things To Know About Semantic Web

1. You don’t need to apologize for calling
it Web 3.0. Of course the Web does not upgrade in one go like a company
switching to Vista. But there is a definite phase transition from
current technologies. My personal Web 3.0 definition is “the
combination of Web 2.0 mass collaboration with structured databases”.

2. Semantic Web will start the long, slow decline of relational
database technology. Web 3.0 enables the transition from “structure
upfront” to “structure on the fly”. The world is clearly too complex to
structure upfront, despite the tremendous skills brought by data
modelers. Structure on the fly is done by people adding structure as
they use the service and by engines that automatically create structure
from unstructured content. Structure on the fly is very, very hard and
RDBMS is very, very entrenched so this will be a long and slow
transition; but the decline is inevitable. Innovation has slowed in the
RDBMS world - with open source at one end and Oracle at the other,
there is little reason to innovate - just when Semantic Web innovation
is accelerating. RDBMS was good for enterprise scale performance and
reliability but for Internet scale it falls short; just look at what
companies like Amazon use.

3. If you have a firm grasp of the theoretical underpinnings of the
semantic web, things like RDF, tuples, Sparql and OWL that make my
brain hurt, you will be able to charge a fat premium in consulting fees
for a while, as not many people really understand this stuff. But make
hay while the sun shines, as some entrepreneur will surely figure out
how to abstract this stuff and make it accessible for the masses.

4. The success stories will be different from Web 2.0. Just like Web
2.0 success stories were different from Web 1.0 successes. Web 2.0
successes were mostly about a single feature (photos, bookmarks, video,
phone, blogging, etc) where there was extremely rapid adoption by
consumers. Semantic Web is inherently about integration and those plays
tend to be different, longer and much bigger potential.

5. Don’t look for a killer app. That implies a client/consumer win.
This is much more likely to be a server/platform/enterprise win. Even
if the initial experimentation is done in the consumer domain; Freebase
for example looks like a mass Beta test for some enterprise technology
that Metaweb wants to release later.

6. As this is a platform play, look for powerful APIs and ways to
motivate entrepreneurs to build apps on top, with a clear “show me the
money” proposition. Those apps maybe consumer or enterprise focussed.

7. Semantic Web could slow the Google steamroller. This could be
like the PC for IBM or the Web for Microsoft. The steamroller’s
momentum carries it forward for a very long time and it can build all
kinds of wrapper systems around it, but something new always does come
along. Google mastered how to give some structure to countless
unstructured HTML pages. Semantic Web will gradually make that less
critical as the underlying content will be more structured. These big
generational changes - mainframe to PC to Web - seem to be happening
faster, so it seems about time for another big generational change to
start happening.

8. But don’t look for Yet Another Search Engine (YASE) to be the
David to Google’s Goliath. Just like PC was not another mainframe and
Web was not another PC. Don’t ask me precisely what it will look like;
if I did know I would have to kill you if I told you. I just know what
it won’t look like

9. Vertical Search is the pragmatist’s Semantic Web. Vertical Search
businesses use whatever techniques they need - basic search engines,
scrapers, APIs, human editors - to create some meaningful/useful
structure in a single domain. Over time these cobbled together
pragmatic solutions will be replaced by a semantic web platform,
probably by an API that enables human editors to leverage their
valuable domain expertise.

10. Tagging is the quietly disruptive technology. Everybody tags. It
is the most basic human urge to mark what we find. We do it with
Folders in Windows. We do it online with Bookmarks. Specialist tag
Microformats such as Hcard and Hcalendar add more structure and we are
only at the very start of this wave.

11. Semantic Web will leverage the “community” to add structure and
this will use some techniques from first generation Social Networking.
But it is very unlikely that Semantic Web will emerge from the walled
gardens of current social networking sites. The winners will know how
to motivate community to provide structure and will provide the tools
that make the structuring so easy that nobody knows they are doing
anything so boring as structuring. That is the big lesson from Web 2.0
that will be applied in the Semantic Web.

Article Link

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: