Semantic web: unwanted openness?ΒΆ

Tags: aec

Tim O'Reilly has a short commentary on a speech by Bill Gates which touched upon the semantic web. Edd Dumbill had the following remark on it:

I am fascinated in general by the attitude of software companies to AI-like topics, and in particular the semantic web. I won't attribute to cunning what can reasonably be attributed to narrow-minded stupidity, but there is a marked reluctance among big players to support the semantic web work at the W3C.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to believe that it's because they think it's all going nowhere. I'm starting to think that it's the usual reaction against open standards: if we start exposing semantics on the web for all to see, then vendors lose another route to lock-in.

I wonder what the building industry's response to the semantic web will be. Theoretically it means a lot of available information, which is a good thing. But how many existing businesses will feel threatened by it as they currently depend on their closed-up information? Providers of classification systems could provide valuable semantic resources by making their classification systems available in a semantic-web-like way. But don't they depend on the income derived from keeping the system closed? The irony is that these classification systems are intended to be used widely.

There are some big decisions to be made here, some of which are painful. We live in interesting times!

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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