A great piece from Harry Chen via his Geospatial Semantic Web
Blog. I have nothing to add to this bar: Amen! Enjoy the rest
of his post below:
Hiding Ontology from the Semantic Web Users: "
Ontology is a key foundation of the Semantic Web. Without
ontology, it will be difficult for applications to share knowledge
and reason over information that is published on the Web. However,
it is a serious mistake to think that the Semantic Web is simply a
collection of ontologies.
Last week I was invited to be on a panel discussion at
the Humans and
the Semantic Web Workshop. I
talked a bit about the Geospatial Semantic Web and its
associated research issues. Overall the workshop went very well.
You can read about the notes from the workshop here.
Some of my new thinkings after the workshop are as the
- People, especially those who are new to the Semantic Web, have
put too much emphasis on developing ontologies and not enough
emphasis on developing application functions.
- While ontology languages such RDF and OWL are important part of
the current Semantic Web development, it’s a mistake to build
Semantic Web applications that assume that average users are fluent
in those languages.
- Many people seem to have forgotten that building Semantic Web
applications don’t have start with ontology development. It’s a
good idea to start with ontology reuse — i.e. reuse ontologies that
have already been developed even if they don’t meet every single
requirements of the application.
- There is no excuse to build ‘crappy’ UI just because developing
Semantic Web applications are challenging.
Hide Low-Level Details from the Semantic Web Users
I was asked the question, ‘What’re user-related issues that
Semantic Web developers must pay attention to?’ I think
building Semantic Web applications are similar to building database
applications. Few things we can learn from our past experience in
building database applications.
When building database-driven applications, we store information
in SQL databases, and we use SQL to access, manipulate, and manage
this information. When building Semantic Web applications, we
express ontologies and information in RDF, and use RDF query
languages (e.g. SPARQL) to access and
manipulate this information.
When building database-driven applications, we hide complexity
from the end-users. For example, we almost never expose raw SQL
statements to the end users, or ask users to process the raw result
sets returned from an SQL engine. We always provide intuitive
interfaces for accessing and representing information.
When building Semantic Web applications, we should also hide
complexity from the end-users. Users shouldn’t need to see or edit
RDF statements. Users shouldn’t need to be fluent in SPARQL queries
or able parse graphs that are returned by a SPARQL engine.
Semantic Web developers should spend more time on building
functional capabilities that solve real world problems and improve
people’s productivity. It’s important to remember that ‘the
Semantic Web != ontologies‘.