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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The problem with RDF -- Can I get an Amen 

Stefano Mazzocchi
The semantic web is really just data integration at a global scale. Some of this data might end up being consistent, detailed and small enough to perform symbolic reasoning on, but even if this is the case, that would be such a small, expensive and fragile island of knowledge that it would have the same impact on the world as calculus had on deciding to invade Iraq.

The biggest problem we face right now is a way to 'link' information that comes from different sources that can scale to hundreds of millions of statements (and hundreds of thousands of equivalences). Equivalences and subclasses are the only things that we have ever needed of OWL and RDFS, we want to 'connect' dots that otherwise would be unconnected. We want to suggest people to use whatever ontology pleases them and then think of just mapping it against existing ones later. This is easier to bootstrap than to force them to agree on a conceptualization before they even know how to start!

Personally, I'm betting hard on this "data first, mapping later" vs. "ontology first" approach, so this means that we must have software systems that are capable of coping with the computational complexities that this approach entails. It's in this spirit that I welcome Prof. Handel's blog (and paper).

Topics: RDF | /Data2.0


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Comments:
I totally agree with you that enforcing specific ontologies, the top down method, is not the way to go on the web. It goes against the instrinsic properties of the web. (lightweight)

I have written a post describing my own view and research on the subject on my blog
 
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