Semantic Web: Remember That for Enterprise Search?

October 26, 2014

You can find an interesting discussion of the Semantic Web on Hacker News. Semantic Web search engines have had a difficult time capturing the imagination of the public. The write up and the comments advance the notion that the Semantic Web is alive and well, just invisible.

I found the statement from super Googler Peter Norvig a window into how Google views the Semantic Web. Here’s the snippet:

Peter Norvig put it best: “The semantic web is the future of the web, and always will be.” (For what it’s worth, the startup school video that quote comes from is worth watching:

There are references to “semantic search” companies that have failed; for example, Ontoprise. There are links to clever cartoons.

The statement I highlighted was:

The underlying data just doesn’t necessarily map very well into the seem-web representations, so duplicates occur and possible values explode in their number of valid permutations even though they all mean the same handful of things. And it’s the read-only semantic-web, so you can’t just clean it, you have to map it.. Which is why I’m always amazed that works at all. And hopefully one day will be a thing. I remember being excited about for “liberating” messy data into clean linked data… but it turns out that you really don’t want to curate your information “in the graph”; it seems obvious, but traditional relational datasets are infinitely more manageable than arbitrarily connected nodes in a graph. So, most CMS platforms are doing somewhat useful things in marking up their content in machine-readable ways (RDFa, [as evil as that debacle was], HTTP content-type negotiation and so on) either out-of-the-box or with trivially installed plugins.

Ah, content management systems. Now that’s the model for successful information access as long as one does not want engineering drawings, videos, audio, binaries, and a host of proprietary data types like i2 Analyst Notebook files.

Worth checking out the thread in my view.

Stephen E Arnold, October 26, 2014


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