Message in a Bottle or: How can the Semantic Web Community be more convincing?

author: Stefan Decker, RWTH Aachen University
published: Nov. 24, 2008,   recorded: October 2008,   views: 6648


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Enormous resources are poured into projects like the Large Hadron Collider, the Hubble space telescope, or the Iter fusion reactor. Computer science resources pale in comparison – the European Semantic Web effort is tiny compared to those projects. Why is this the case? Does the Semantic Web (or computer science in general) promise less impact or relevance than those Physics projects? In my talk I will argue that the Physicists are much better in formulating an engaging mission and message. Especially the Semantic Web community has not been very good in coming up with a convincing mission directed to the public. We need to and we can do better. I will formulate requirements and a starting point for such a message and investigate ongoing seemingly unrelated research areas and trends on the Semantic Web like Semantic Sensor Networks, Social Semantic Desktop and Semantic Publishing and how they contributes to a better conveyable mission.

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Stefan Decker, December 13, 2008 at 1:58 a.m.:

Dear visitor,

the introduction of the talk needs an explanation to be understandable.

The intro was a response to Tim Finin's (the conference chair) announcement (at the conference dinner the night before) that I would be talking about 2nd Order Logic and would save the Semantic Web with 2nd Order Logic (his statement). I decided to use his announcement (with was done without my knowledge) and indeed start the with a couple of slides on 2nd Order Logic - to set a contra point to the rest of the talk.

Some people misunderstood the introduction as me demoting logic as a foundation for the Semantic Web. That was not my intention - I myself have a background in logic and some of my most cited papers are about logic and inference mechanisms for the Web.
Indeed 2nd Order Monadic Logic has interesting properties for describing graphs and it may be worthwhile to investigate the relationship to RDF graphs (I have not done this).

My talk was about how to communicate the Semantic Web ideas to a greater audience - and indeed logic may not be the most effective tool here.
But of course logic (also 2nd Order Logic) are worthwhile areas of research also for the Semantic Web.

I hope this comment clarifies some of the questions and remarks I got.

Best regards,

Stefan Decker

Comment2 Barry O'Gorman, December 3, 2009 at 10:22 p.m.:

I was wondering. Your note explains a lot.



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