Brief Content of the Interview

Here is the interview to TimBerners-lee by Andrew Updegrove.

The topics include:
"Questions and Answers: Our interview was intended to help those that do not yet have the Semantic Web in focus gain an understanding of what the Semantic Web will (and will not) be, what we can look forward to using it for, and how it is likely to become real. Our questions were divided into the following six categories:

  • Vision: Why build a Semantic Web now, rather than add other capabilities at this point in time, and what new capabilities will the Semantic Web have?
  • Status: Who is already committed to create the Semantic Web, and how do we get the rest on board?
  • Critics: What has worked well and what has not proceeded so smoothly in developing Semantic Web standards, and what are the things that critics don’t “get” about the Semantic Web?
  • Business Reality: What are the biggest challenges to bringing the Semantic Web into being?
  • Infrastructure: Will other standards be needed in the future to take full advantage of the Semantic Web, and who will develop them?
  • Users: What will it be like to use the Semantic Web?


Important Points

1.in the Semantic Web, it is not necessary for every page having a corresponding metadata(encoding in RDF/OWL). That is, we have pages for people only; have metadata for machines only (of course people can read /use directly), and have pages plus their metadata.

2.In the recent years, W3C has contributed mostly in providing an infrastructure on how to describe knowledge by machine in distributed environments. not on how to create metadata. It is like to define the TCP/IP protocol stack instead to build applications based on TCP/IP

"CSB: What are the limitations of the Semantic Web – what will it enable someone to do, and what will it not permit us to do?
TBL: The goal of the Semantic Web initiative is to create a universal medium for the exchange of data where data can be shared and processed by automated tools as well as by people. The Semantic Web is designed to smoothly interconnect personal information management, enterprise application integration, and the global sharing of commercial, scientific and cultural data. We are talking about data here, not human documents.
The Semantic Web is not about the meaning of English documents. It’s not about marking up existing HTML documents to let a computer understand what they say. It’s not about the artificial intelligence areas of machine learning or natural language understanding -- they use the word semantics with a different meaning.
It is about the data which currently is in relational databases, XML documents, spreadsheets, and proprietary format data files, and all of which would be useful to have access to as one huge database.


Still No Killer App?

When asked on the Killer app of SW, we response by: SW itself is a killer app. But it's not a good answer of course.

In fact, it is hard for us to find a good application. Why?

1. if we set the scenario to be the interoperation among several enterprise, we lose the feature of distribution, which is the most significant different of SW/RDF/OW to the XML.

2.if we try to find a scenario benefits the entire web. Intuitively we will start off by finding the usefulness of the SW to the ordinary people, which, almost immediately equals to, to make use of metadata connected with web pages.

Many researchers work on this point now. But the results are not so inspiring. I think it is because the problem is complicated and far from be used widely. (Think I will look into it later ).

Fortunately, the work from web2.0 will help.

The most important of all is , I think, the SW is mainly about the machines, not about the connection of webpage to metadata. So SW will not make the connecting work more easier, excepting we have a language for metadata/knowledge(of course it is important). On the contrary, it is the connecting will made the SW more convictive.

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