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  • Dan Zambonini
    Hi, Hope no-one minds a Cardiff member joining, it s sort of South- West... Well, South-West Britain, anyway. Just as a brief intro; I m Technical Director
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 14, 2003
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      Hi,

      Hope no-one minds a 'Cardiff' member joining, it's sort of South-
      West... Well, South-West Britain, anyway.

      Just as a brief intro; I'm Technical Director of a Cardiff/Birmingham
      based web development company (Box UK - http:///www.boxuk.com), who
      have been using XML and RDF since about 1999. My particular
      interests are with RDF and the Semantic Web, and I try to promote the
      good word when possible, though like most people I guess, find it
      quite difficult.

      Recently, I've been looking at ways to make RDF 'commercially viable'
      for the private sector; i.e. trying to think of ideas that would make
      RDF 'interesting' to companies (as I currently see it, the private
      sector will be dis-interested until implementing RDF brings in cash-
      flow). My main worry at the moment is that there is a catch-22;
      a 'critical mass' of rdf statements are needed in order for the
      semantic web to be viable, but there is no incentive to create these
      statements until the semantic web is up and running (and supported
      through some kind of interface - agents, search engines, etc.).

      Thanks,

      Dan
    • Dave Reynolds
      ... Quite so. ... Welcome to the list. ... I completely agree with you. This a network effect technology and, like any such, it has an unpredictable and
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 14, 2003
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        Dan Zambonini wrote:

        > Hope no-one minds a 'Cardiff' member joining, it's sort of South-
        > West... Well, South-West Britain, anyway.

        Quite so.

        > Just as a brief intro;

        Welcome to the list.

        > Recently, I've been looking at ways to make RDF 'commercially viable'
        > for the private sector; i.e. trying to think of ideas that would make
        > RDF 'interesting' to companies (as I currently see it, the private
        > sector will be dis-interested until implementing RDF brings in cash-
        > flow). My main worry at the moment is that there is a catch-22;
        > a 'critical mass' of rdf statements are needed in order for the
        > semantic web to be viable, but there is no incentive to create these
        > statements until the semantic web is up and running (and supported
        > through some kind of interface - agents, search engines, etc.).

        I completely agree with you. This a "network effect" technology and, like any
        such, it has an unpredictable and uncertain take-off point dependent on whether
        and how fast it reaches critical mass.

        My guess is that a good place to look is at domains where there is some scoping
        of the community that wants to share information. Find smaller pools in which
        you can more easily reach critical mass. Once enough such modest communities are
        using the technologies it can take off in the more general setting.

        Dave
      • Brian Kelly
        ... A question in response to that suggestion. If you are working across communities isn t it likely that the communities will share XML schemas or embed
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 14, 2003
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          > Dan Zambonini wrote:

          ...
          > > My main worry at the moment is that there is a catch-22; a
          > > 'critical mass' of rdf statements are needed in order for
          > > the semantic
          > > web to be viable, but there is no incentive to create these
          > > statements
          > > until the semantic web is up and running (and supported
          > > through some
          > > kind of interface - agents, search engines, etc.).
          >
          > I completely agree with you. This a "network effect"
          > technology and, like any
          > such, it has an unpredictable and uncertain take-off point
          > dependent on whether
          > and how fast it reaches critical mass.
          >
          > My guess is that a good place to look is at domains where
          > there is some scoping
          > of the community that wants to share information. Find
          > smaller pools in which
          > you can more easily reach critical mass. Once enough such
          > modest communities are
          > using the technologies it can take off in the more general setting.

          A question in response to that suggestion. If you are working across
          communities isn't it likely that the communities will share XML schemas
          or embed knowledge within their applications.

          This is a good thing, but it seems to me that this is really about the
          growth of an XML world, and not the Semantic Web.

          It seems to me that developing the Semantic Web has parallels with
          addressing global warming: there are things that we can do, but there
          will be a cost and the benefits will not necessarily be to those but are
          making the investment but to some nebulous 'everyone'.

          I think I'd find it useful to see some business case which clarified the
          potential savings / additional functionality which could be obtained by
          making a commitment to the Semantic Web - with no angle brackets allowed
          in the business case :-)

          Brian

          ---------------------------------------
          Brian Kelly
          UK Web Focus
          UKOLN
          University of Bath
          BATH
          BA2 7AY
          Email: B.Kelly@...
          Web: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/
          Phone: 01225 383943
          FOAF: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/b.kelly/foaf/bkelly-foaf.xrdf
          For info on FOAF see http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/b.kelly/foaf/
        • Dave Reynolds
          ... Sure. For a fixed community with stable information representation requirements then XML together with embedded application semantics is just fine.
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 14, 2003
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            Brian Kelly wrote:

            > A question in response to that suggestion. If you are working across
            > communities isn't it likely that the communities will share XML schemas
            > or embed knowledge within their applications.

            Sure. For a fixed community with stable information representation requirements
            then XML together with embedded application semantics is just fine.

            However, often the information requirements change over time and new groups or
            new applications need to do new things with the data that hadn't been planned
            for. Then you have the issues of evolving the schema and rewriting the data and
            agreeing the new semantics. This is complex and the process of centralized
            agreement and roll-out of the schema changes can be slow. Slow response to
            change is a Bad Thing in business terms.

            The semantic web seems to offer lower cost routes to such open evolution. In
            part because it supports decentralization so that representations can be
            extended or locally adapted safely because the underlying data model is easy to
            compose and because the conceptual model is generally more explicit.

            There is no magic. By definition anything that can be done in the semantic web
            can be done in XML if you try hard enough.

            > It seems to me that developing the Semantic Web has parallels with
            > addressing global warming: there are things that we can do, but there
            > will be a cost and the benefits will not necessarily be to those but are
            > making the investment but to some nebulous 'everyone'.

            Humm, I see what you are saying but I don't think it is that bad. [Then I again
            I also hope we can do something about global warming, because otherwise all else
            becomes somewhat moot!] The purported semantic web advantages, such as easier
            data integration or ease of schema extensions, can be benefits to the immediate
            user community.

            > I think I'd find it useful to see some business case which clarified the
            > potential savings / additional functionality which could be obtained by
            > making a commitment to the Semantic Web - with no angle brackets allowed
            > in the business case :-)

            I'd find that useful too. I can see how the semantic web can make some
            applications easier or more flexible but it is not trivial to turn those into a
            business case.

            Did you have an application area in mind that you think might benefit?

            Dave
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