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Welkin: A General-Purpose RDF Browser

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-am-I-thinking-about dept.

The Internet 189

Stefano Mazzocchi writes "Many consider the Semantic Web to be vaporware and others believe it's the next big thing. No matter where you stand, a question always pops up: Where is the RDF browser? The SIMILE Project, a joint project between W3C, MIT and HP to implement semantic interoperability of metadata in digital libraries, released today the first beta release of a general purpose graphic and interactive RDF browser named Welkin (see a screenshot), targetted to those who need to get a mental model of any RDF dataset, from a single RSS 1.0 news feed to a collection of digital data."

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189 comments

But this begs the question... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772724)

Should I get a cock ring?

Re:But this begs the question... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773107)

Absolutely. Hurts less than you would expect it to. And the men you'll meet will just love it! Tickles the prostate!

F1rst P0st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772727)

First Post! Seriously, Imagine a beowolf cluster of those!

Re:F1rst P0st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773256)

huge!!!!1

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772732)

HAHA, FP!

MOD ME UP BOYS!

Semantic Web Firefox plugin? (5, Funny)

otisg (92803) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772738)

Considering the big 1.0 for Firefox is out, I would think people who wanted their Semantic Web browsing software to be wide-spread would implement it as a Firefox plugin, no?

Why is this funny? (4, Insightful)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772985)

Are people marking this Funny just to be cruel? I find this rather interesting. XUL's data model is RDF already, so it's not like Firefox doesn't already have the foundation to do this.

Re:Semantic Web Firefox plugin? (2, Informative)

Paua Fritter (448250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773333)

There is a Mozilla extension called Annozilla [mozdev.org] which adds the ability to browse and edit RDF annotations to web pages, using the Annotea [w3.org] protocol.

The question is not about a browser (5, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772747)

The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text. No matter how you cut it, the problem lies in having too much information immediately available.

Imagine you are a reading a book, but each word is connected by string to a dictionary reference, and each dictionary reference definition is tied to the definitions of the words in the definition. You'd end up with a huge, eventually circular mess of string and you couldn't realistically get any enjoyment out of the book. The fact of the matter is that if you want to get more information about something, it is easy to go to an outside source to look it up. It does not need to be easier, because by making it easier than it must be you necessarily end up cluttering the thing you want to illuminate.

There is an old saw, "Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler." The Semantic Web, while an interesting idea, tries to make things too easy, beyond the point of usefulness. The lack of content on the Semantic Web is a testament to the uselessness of such an over-engineered web space.

The question is not about a browser-Paradigm (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772780)

"There is an old saw, "Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler." The Semantic Web, while an interesting idea, tries to make things too easy, beyond the point of usefulness. The lack of content on the Semantic Web is a testament to the uselessness of such an over-engineered web space."

Or a testament to people's inability to understand new paradigms.

Re:The question is not about a browser-Paradigm (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772866)

Or a testament to people's inability to understand new paradigms.

Or a testament of the inability of the paradigm's creator to get people to understand it's necessity.

Re:The question is not about a browser-Paradigm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772999)

Or a testament of the inability for people to understand what the word 'paradigm' [wiktionary.org] means!

Re:The question is not about a browser-Paradigm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773251)

Or a testament of the inability for people to understand what the word 'paradigm' [wiktionary.org] means!

Sorry, I don't click on any link that contains the word "wiki".

Re:The question is not about a browser-Paradigm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773012)

"Or a testament of the inability of the paradigm's creator to get people to understand it's necessity."

Aren't you the "got work" guys always talking about keeping up your skills so your job doesn't end up in India?

Well here's your chance. Learn it or your competition does. Your choice.

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Interesting)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772785)

Hear, hear. Wikipedia is about the most hyperlinking that I could stomach. It is useful in that specific application, but the notion of the Semeantic Web is silly. For crying out loud, people on /. don't RTFA, let alone verify all definitions of the words in the summary.

Re:The question is not about a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773016)

Silence, you!

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772794)

make it so that they don't look like different links.. until you press some button or triple click on the word or whatever..

so.. invisible strings that you can see if you wish.

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772894)

so.. invisible[FNORD] strings that you[FNORD] can see if you wish[FNORD].

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772831)

Welkin is simply a PoC, IMO. It just attempts to prove that you can link information together in a fairly suitable way. This is always the first step in any new technology. Other products could, and probably should, use it for different purposes.

Your main objection lies in that it does not filter information, but adds to the mass information overload humans experience daily. However, this can be changed simply. Welkin seems to dump all data at once. The code could be changed so you could traverse ideas. I can already see the usefulness of such a thing for educational purposes.

The lack of content on the Semantic Web is a testament to its current lack of usefulness. If there was more content on it, it would be inherently more useful.

Re:The question is not about a browser (4, Funny)

mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772842)

but about how quickly can Microsoft turn it into a security hole for your friends and family?

Re:The question is not about a browser (4, Insightful)

sonsonete (473442) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772844)

The point of the Semantic Web lies not in making information readily available to people browsing the internet but in providing semantic context with which computers can work. A person reading a document in a browser is not expected to follow links attached to every word. Rather, a computer program is expected to be able to use this information to learn the meaning behind the sting of characters.

Re:The question is not about a browser (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773600)

And how is the meaning behind a string of characters given? For example, lets say you want to give the meaning behind a strong of characters that describes to a human the proof of Skolem's Paradox.

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772873)

The fact of the matter is that if you want to get more information about something, it is easy to go to an outside source to look it up.

The semantic web isn't about human usability. It's about building machine intelligence and knowledge.

Re:The question is not about a browser (2, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773030)

The semantic web isn't about human usability. It's about building machine intelligence and knowledge.

Right, but the problem is if it's unusable for humans to _create_ that content, or to map it from human knowledge-space into machine-parseable format, then it doesn't matter if it's well-engineered from the machine's perspective. That's why adoption of the semantic web has been so poor (outside of applications that could just as well be filled with any ole' XML dialect, like RSS or RDF descriptors used to package Firefox extensions, and so on).

Nobody wants to hire a team of ontological engineers to map information they already have in human accessible form into some highly structured, machine parseable format, and pay them to keep that information up-to-date. Mind you, companies only started paying people to put stuff up on the web when it became clear there was demand, and the early adopters of the web were individuals and academics, but the web was accessible from day one - I put up my first personal web page when I was 15 years old or so, and it took me about an hour to figure out how to do it.

Also remember that big companies spend tens of millions of dollars hacking together some HTML for their website. Imagine how much they would have to pay to get people smart enough to construct ontologies and RDF data versions of all of their content. Yowsers!

Re:The question is not about a browser (4, Funny)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773570)

Nobody wants to hire a team of ontological engineers to map information they already have in human accessible form into some highly structured, machine parseable format, and pay them to keep that information up-to-date.

Please don't tell that to the company I'm interviewing with on Friday. :)

There goes those AI-types. (1, Troll)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773427)

I am sure I will be modded as a troll, but somebody needs to say it, somebody needs to stop these guys.

The "Semantic web" is the latest snake oil being pawned by the AI community.

Nothing is worse than an AI-type. They make big claims and never deliver. They overly anthropomorphize all aspects of computation, fooling themselves into a false understanding of all that is related to computer science. For example, Emacs is "intelligent" because it includes a broken implementation of the lambda-calculus, an implementation that doesn't even properly implement beta-reduction? Since when has breadth-first search, depth-first search, and other search algorithms had anything to do with intelligence? They are just procedures for solving problems. The list goes on and on...

These people regularly try to disprove things such as the undecidability of various problems, the incompleteness of various logics, etc... as these undeniable mathematical proofs point to the fact that computers cannot be intelligent. Sure it is fun for sci-fi movies, but it surely isn't real science.

The semantic web is nothing more than AI-types recycling their same old crap. RDF and OWL, the two most popular scripting languages for the semantic web, are just "semantic nets", an AI concept from the 1970s, rehashed. Yup, when you can't sell any snake oil, just rename it to something else and profit... and profit they do, but does society ever see the AI-types' promises come to fruition?

Give me a break! Give the world a break. Computer science is just that: a science, and so the pseudoscience that is AI must be addressed by more people in the field of computer science.

Re:The question is not about a browser (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772893)

I [reference.com] do [reference.com] not [reference.com] know [reference.com] what [reference.com] you [reference.com] are [reference.com] talking [reference.com] about [reference.com].

Re:The question is not about a browser (2)

base_chakra (230686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772955)

The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text ....
Imagine you are a reading a book, but each word is connected by string to a dictionary reference, and each dictionary reference definition is tied to the definitions of the words in the definition. You'd end up with a huge, eventually circular mess


Although your concerns about user interface are well-taken, you seem to be thinking about this strictly in terms of hyperlinks as presented by web browsers, which is a rather limited view. Behaviors could be user-defined, hidden, and abstracted in virtually endless ways.

For example, even now double-clicking any word in the Opera web browser activates a context-sensitive menu with such options as Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Search, Translate, etc.

Re:The question is not about a browser (1)

medelliadegray (705137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772963)

"The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text."

While your description of this is quite unflattering, i think it would be useful to have the ability to say--highlight a word or phase and by right clicking on it--get the option of:encyclopedia lookup, dictionary, thesarus, etc. I believe in my context, that could be extremely useful.

Re:The question is not about a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772977)

So why does that need to have server/protocol support? It sounds like a wholly client-side operation.

IPV6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773068)

Due to the changes required for IPV6. In order for it to work under IPV6, with asynchronous packets, all the packets must be bunched together for a total size of 4096 bytes (for RDF type (or child type) files to load dynamically per the standard). Since the header for an IPV6 packet can vary in size from packet to packet (if it keeps a log of its travels), this makes this task a little more difficult. Additionally, since normally the OS controls the size of the packet (for optimization), the IPV6 installed by the operating system can't be used (unlike TCP/IP). So a new IPV6 is implemented which is why it needs server/protocol support. It's a bitch (I have spent about 40 hours trying to find a workaround). Just another example of why IPV6 adds too much new overhead to be viable.

Re:The question is not about a browser (1)

PedanticSpellingTrol (746300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773210)

Hmm... firefox already has that capabilty for googling the highlighted text, and the search toolbar has plugins for dictionary.com, wikipedia and the like... this sounds like a quick & dirty plugin job for somebody that knows more than I do.

Re:The question is not about a browser (1)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773036)

The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text. No matter how you cut it, the problem lies in having too much information immediately available.

You could always have your own private dictionary of words that you wanted hyperlinked whenever possible, and also an ignore list for the most popular words. But things would get tricky for movie titles which are wordplay on some other concept.

I agree[1] with this persons[ibid.] statement[2,3] (1)

indole (177514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773040)

Imagine you are a reading a book, but each word is connected by string to a dictionary reference, and each dictionary reference definition is tied to the definitions of the words in the definition. You'd end up with a huge, eventually circular mess of string and you couldn't realistically get any enjoyment out of the book.

Ever read Infinite Jest (or anything else) by David Foster Wallace? QED


Re:The question is not about a browser (0, Flamebait)

Inthewire (521207) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773200)

I'm not the only person who thinks DS needs to be skullfucked by a tag-team of Ted Nelson and the ghost of Vannevar Bush, am I?

Re:The question is not about a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773247)

Fuck you, always people bitching about new technologies.

Re:The question is not about a browser (1)

Spoing (152917) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773337)

  1. The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text.

Like that, no. Though we do need meta data and a browser or search engine to support that meta data.

Not for the current popular stuff that's out there -- the web browsers and search engines work well enough for that.

Where meta data and ways to search it is interesting is in media files such as audio, video, and images. This isn't like a book search in a card catalog, though. Transient stuff such as audio blogs covered by RSS with enclosures (Podcasting) would need to be indexed. Currently, a standard search engine would be a week or two behind this media -- making it much less valuable.

Re:The question is not about a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773644)

The question is about whether we really need a World Wide Web that looks like Wikipedia with links to every word and generally just a jumbled mess of blue and purple text.

Nobody is suggesting that a browser like this should replace normal web browsers. This is something like the "view source" for web pages, only a little more advanced. The idea is that the information is there for user-agents to use as they see fit.

Imagine you are a reading a book, but each word is connected by string to a dictionary reference, and each dictionary reference definition is tied to the definitions of the words in the definition. You'd end up with a huge, eventually circular mess of string and you couldn't realistically get any enjoyment out of the book.

Huh, I seem to cope quite well with it. I can select any word on a web page, right-click and select "View dictionary definition" right now. The mistake you are making is that you think that just because the information is there, it all needs to be shown to the user all at once. It doesn't. It just needs to be present so that user-agents can understand it when necessary.

The fact of the matter is that if you want to get more information about something, it is easy to go to an outside source to look it up. It does not need to be easier, because by making it easier than it must be you necessarily end up cluttering the thing you want to illuminate.

Please explain how you came to this conclusion, because I can't see anything that supports it.

Solution space? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772755)

Isn't RDF much like the laser use to be? A solution looking for a problem?

Re:Solution space? (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773641)

Considering that RDF is just a rebranding of a 30+ year old concept from AI, "semantic nets", I would have to say that RDF is a non-solution looking for another sap to pawn itself onto.

RDF a load of crap (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772767)

enough people have said it, but it's worth while saying again. RDF is totally flawed and will never meet the vision of W3C. The whole idea that an RDF resource is true and authorative is just silly. Look at what happened to HTML metadata tag. I got abused instantly and search engines stopped using them. RDF rules is monotonic, which is just totally silly. that basically means any rules written in RDF will timeout if the data isn't already on that particular server. W3C should just give up already on RDF and move on.

RDF a load of crap-Says an AC. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772904)

"enough people have said it [All related to the OP], but it's worth while saying again. RDF is totally flawed and will never meet the vision of W3C [And that is?]. The whole idea that an RDF resource is true and authorative is just silly [Just like the present web]. Look at what happened to HTML metadata tag. I got abused instantly and search engines stopped using them [They're used, just not alone]. RDF rules is monotonic, which is just totally silly. that basically means any rules written in RDF will timeout if the data isn't already on that particular server [Can you say local, and intranet?]. W3C should just give up already on RDF and move on. [Just like the advice we give those KDE guys]"

Read this.

http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pracrdf/index.html/ [oreilly.com]

Maybe you'll learn something.

Re:RDF a load of crap-Says an AC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773155)

Error

We're sorry, the URL, http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pracrdf/index.html/ is either incorrect or no longer available.

If you followed this link from outside of one of our sites, we'd appreciate if you'd let the owner of the referring page know.

If you followed it from within our sites, or if you believe you received this message in error, please send e-mail to help@oreillynet.com and let us know that you got error 404 looking for http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pracrdf/index.html/ which was linked to on page http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/10/004022 3&threshold=0&tid=95&tid=189&tid=1 .

---

What was I supposed to read? To the mods: if that link was dead from the the get go, you guys aren't doing your jobs.

RDF a load of crap-Says an AC-"/" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773245)

"What was I supposed to read? To the mods: if that link was dead from the the get go, you guys aren't doing your jobs."

Take the "/" off the end of the URL.

Re:RDF a load of crap-Says an AC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773241)

Yeah, he'll learn that the RDF folks, living in their Ivory Towers of RDF Purity, have written a BOOK on their ill-conceived invention.

Big deal. I have a book on IPv6. Sometimes when I want a good laugh, I pull it out and read it. I saved myself some time and have it on the shelf next to my FORTRAN book. Probably not a good match since FORTRAN was actually heavily used once. I should get the RDF book and then IPv6 and RDF can sit together in a new part of the shelf for "geek dreams that will never happen".

RDF and the semantic web will be like communism: it won't work , and supports will pout and complain "But you're not *doing* it right!" And detractors will say: "Yeah, because there's no *incentive* to."

Re:RDF a load of crap-Says an AC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773491)

Oh, but the Semantic Web is intelligent and has knowledge and can think and all that other crap my AI professor talks about.

Anybody else catch the subtle irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773366)

Let's see, here's a post with a broken link (bad data.. extra slash).

Yet it was modded up "Insightful" by some clueless mods who didn't even bother testing the validity of the data (bad metadata).

I think that sums up why the semantic web will never happen, in one neat example.

Another counter-example to the semantic web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773513)

That is a good example of why the semantic web just won't work. Here is another example:

PORN, SEX, CUNT, FIST, PENIS, GAY, SEX, TEENS, PORN, SEX, CUNT, FIST, PENIS, GAY, SEX, TEENS, PORN, SEX, CUNT, FIST, PENIS, GAY, SEX, TEENS, PORN, SEX, CUNT, FIST, PENIS, GAY, SEX, TEENS

sdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsj kd fbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldj fbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfu iwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgos idfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsd fgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsj kdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskl djfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwid fuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbg osidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubg sdfgsdfgsjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfg sjkdfbgskldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfgsdfgsjkdfbgs kldjfbgwidfuiwdfbgosidfubgsdfg

Re:RDF a load of crap (3, Interesting)

Yosi (139306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772967)

There are those who worry about these things.
Much work on the semantic web has been with n3 [w3.org]
N3 is a superset of rdf, allowing for quoting of groups of triples (known a formulae). In n3, you can say things about groups of n3 triples, including about their trustworthiness.

For instance, you can say:
[is log:semantics of <documentURI> ] a :untrustworthyInformation .
essentially saying that the formula which is the semantics of the given document if of a class :untrustworthyInformation, which your n3 parser may attach special meaning to.

There are many who are very wary on n3 for precisely the same reasons.

Note that I will always plug n3, given that I'm heavily involved with cwm [w3.org].

Fatality! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772771)

Wow, 1 comment in and the screenshot is slashdotted.

I wonder if anyone was injured by the shrapnel.. and if slashdot will be hearing from lawyers.

Apparently.... (1)

twoslice (457793) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772874)

targetted to those who need to get a mental model of any RDF dataset, from a single RSS 1.0 news feed

The link only works for those targetted individuals who need it drawn out for them in pictures before they can understand it, consider yourself lucky...

Buggy!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772789)

Have you tried this? Buggy as hell. Just goes to show that open source software has poorer levels of QA than proprietary solutions.

Re:Buggy!!!! (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772917)

Yeah, lord knows proprietary software like MSIE has never had bugs or security issues.

Re:Buggy!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772972)

There is a significant difference between a production level bug and a trivial bug. This program is unusable. MS Excel is useable, but crashes in certain instances. This is nothing less than a failure of open source QA in this respect. Proprietary QA at least tries to make sure that production software works enough so that most people don't have problems.

SCOTT LOCKWOOD MOLESTS LITTLE BABY BOYS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772807)

HE RAPES BABIES!

Whatchew talkin' about (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772816)

Willis?

Re:Whatchew talkin' about (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772851)

i hate co-eds.

Gee thanks... (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772869)

After looking at that screenshot, it's sooo clear to me the value that the semantic web brings to us (mirrored here [hardgrok.org] as their server appears to be flaking out a bit). If anything, this makes it crystal clear why the semantic web hasn't really taken off, other than in the much more limited form of RSS feeds.

A network of random connections of semantic concepts embodied as URIs is just not a friendly form of data for humans to manipulate directly, and I don't think it every will be. That's right, I don't believe this is really an issue that's solvable with slightly better tools. I think ultimately the management of and connection of ontologies is something that computers will have to learn to do themselves.

It's just too hard to expect normal human beings to describe knowledge in any way other than the way we are used to. The web is only as popular as it is because HTML is a simple, appearance-based way to markup documents (yes, I realize strictly speaking HTML isn't supposed to describe many aspects of appearance per se, but there's no denying that it comes from that root). We understand bold and italics (and even strong and em), but ask somebody to generate two concepts by constructing URIs for them and relating them in subject-predicate form and they are going to look at you and drool.

Even programmers aren't used to the idea of describing knowledge - it's one thing to tell a computer what to do, it's another thing to tell a computer how to know about something that you know.

Alright, I know I'm opening myself up to the flames here, so flame away. Anyway, I think the "semantic web" will need to wait for tools like Cyc et. al. to come along far enough to construct and relate their own ontologies out of English text, and until then all we will see is stuff like RSS or RDF files in Firefox extensions to describe deployment conditions (i.e. stuff that can be done with any arbitrary XML dialect that doesn't really qualify as the "semantic web" to me).

Gee thanks...-Bic Lighters and natives. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10772964)

"Even programmers aren't used to the idea of describing knowledge - it's one thing to tell a computer what to do, it's another thing to tell a computer how to know about something that you know."

Yea. Just try getting a programmer to explain the latest thing they're working on. "Well you see it does this, and if you click on that, something happens. It's all too complicated to explain, sorry."

Re:Gee thanks...-Bic Lighters and natives. (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773070)

Sorry, I don't think you understood my meaning, probably because you have zero familiarity with the semantic web outside of reading headlines on Slashdot.

Of course programmers are very good at being precise in describing algorithms, but describing knowledge in subject-verb-object format is not so easy. You can't just describe your algorithm, you have to relate each of the base concepts used in the algorithm to existing ontologies, or create your own ontologies for them. Describing an algorithm in pseudocode, or in a structured language with straightforward syntactic rules is relatively easy. Doing the same using RDF is HARD because you aren't just implementing the algorithm, you are describing to a computer what the algorithm does and how to use it.

I encourage you to try working with some of the semantic web technologies a little bit and form your own opinions, as I have done (admittedly 1.5-2 years back, so things may have come along a bit since then, but I doubt the fundamentals have changed).

Re:Gee thanks...-Bic Lighters and natives. (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773559)

Are you saying that RDF is a Turing complete programming language? How the hell would I write, for example, a C++ interpreter in RDF? Also in what sense can you describe what an algorithm does using RDF? For example, lets say I devised a new sophisticated compression algorithm. How do I describe that in RDF?

Re:Gee thanks... (1)

neltana (795825) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773025)

So, in the future, we will all be able to use the Semantic Web to make pretty pictures out of our data. Spiro-Graph and the Etch-A-Sketch will be things of the past. My kids will now be able to make pretty abstract art from my checkbook. Technology is wonderful. I'm one of those people who is waiting for a killer app before I get on the Semantic Web bandwagon. In the meantime, I'm just going to regard it as the source of more computer science acronyms. What I suspect will happen is the next great thing AFTER the Semantic Web will, perhaps, borrow a concept or two from it. That will be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Re:Gee thanks... (1)

Craigory (553911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773082)

There are a lot of misconceptions about the Semantic Web going on here. 1) It's not a way to insert a lot of links into HTML the way Wikipedia does. 2) It's not some sort of replacement for HTML or describing things in good old fashioned text. The idea is that you describe knowledge in a way that is repurposable (ie: a computer can prove theorems about it, etc). It's more like an SQL database than an HTML web page. Your secretary is *not* supposed to hand-edit RDF files. There may be RDF files in the *back-end* of the application he uses, however. The Semantic Web will make it easier for two corporations to merge their databases, for example. The URIs associated with RDF entities and relationships need not be associated with any viewable web page. RTFM.

Re:Gee thanks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773190)

Instead of telling us what it's *not*, how about telling us what it *is*, and what it's useful for?

The idea is that you describe knowledge in a way that is repurposable

And why would I want to do this? Why would I want to spend time describing "knowledge" at all?

The Semantic Web will make it easier for two corporations to merge their databases

I thought XML was supposed to do that?

All in all, I have yet to hear a single concrete description of what the 'semantic web' is, or how it would be useful in everyday life.

Re:Gee thanks... (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773532)

I thought XML was supposed to do that?

No, all XML was supposed to do is add semantics to the web. The idea that it could be used to merge databases was a later addition by people who really don't seem to understand the concepts.

To merge databases all you really need is a previously agreed upon semantics. Since there is an "X" in XML those semantics are not inherent in XML itself and must be included with the data.

The thing is, that if one includes the semantics with the data (or simply agrees on it ahead of time) the inclusion of tags is completely unneccessary and thus verbosely redundant.

"Yo, dude. First field is going to be name. Second field address. Third field phone number."

name, address, phone number

As opposed to:

"Yo, dude. The name tag is going to be name. The address tag is going to be address. The phone number tag is going to be phone number."

[name]name[/name]
[address]address[/address]
[ phone number]phone number[/phone number]

It's all very silly and smacks of making things complicated because you think complicated must be more advanced than simple somehow.

KFG

Re:Gee thanks... (2, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773260)

Your comments have no relevance to mine - I have done a fair amount of work with semantic web technologies before (well, compared to most people out there anyway), my comments were a response to my personal experiences, not some random misconceptions formed by reading Slashdot articles.

1) I never said anything of the sort. RDF/Semantic Web technologies have nothing to do with inserting links into HTML.

2) I never said it was a replacement for HTML. I just said it wasn't likely to be adopted because of the difficultly of creating content in a properly structured, ontologically connected RDF format.

Of course your secretary isn't supposed to hand-edit RDF files, but somebody has to not only write code that dumps stuff from a database into RDF (easy - not really any different from dumping into any ole' XML format) but map all the stuff into relevant ontologies (not easy), where "easy" is defined in terms of being comprehensible enough to permit adoption outside of academia.

3) It's only easier for two corporations to merge databases if all the entities therein are connected by direct or indirect ontological relationships. People have to build these relationships. That was the whole point of my post.

4) I said nothing about URIs being associated with viewable web pages. Stop inserting random straw man attacks.

Apparently you are the one who needs to RTFM instead of getting up on your high horse there, buddy. Not everybody on Slashdot is as ignorant as you presume.

Re:Gee thanks... (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773423)

. . .relate their own ontologies out of English text. . .

Which would be perfectly dandy, if we were storing data for computers to use for their own purposes.

So long as we are storing data for interpretation by human minds we circle back to your own arguments for why the semantic web is silly.

Some developers get so wrapped in the AI that they entirely neglect that their own I is part of the system.

KFG

RDF browser? (2, Funny)

aixou (756713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772880)

Niice. I've always wanted to know what's going on in Steve Job's head.

Re:RDF browser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773422)

The browser would have to have a hell of a Heisenberg Compensator!

Do you really want web pages that look like this? (3, Funny)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 9 years ago | (#10772980)

The Incredible Hulk [komar.org] had fun [reference.com] with his halloween decorations [komar.org] but that's a warmup [demon.co.uk] for his christmas lights [komar.org] where he plays [plays.com] RoShamBo [komar.org] when not helping [helpout.com] out Google Compute. [powder2glass.com]

Re:Do you really want web pages that look like thi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773213)

Not really, I want to be able to toggle hilighting on and off. Optimally my browser would let me look up any word... hmm, actually, it does with a plugin or two. Hooray for firefox. Personally I think that people who don't make a lot of links are doing the web a disservice, but maybe it's just me.

Re:Do you really want web pages that look like thi (1)

Sarcastic Assassin (788575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773415)

Is it just me, or does this post remind anyone of some pages on the Internet that feature ads tightly integrated into the page, where certain keywords are actually hyperlinks to product pages? (Yahoo News is an example, where they feature a link, in parentheses, to related news and Internet searches, for items such as Iraq, President Bush, etc.) If what I'm saying sounds really obvious, then I might have just pointed out a potential marketing advantage/annoying piece of advertising in RDF.

java webstart actually works (0, Offtopic)

melvster (756051) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773009)

well it's nice to see that java web start actually works for something other than that strangely addictive millitary game

worked a treat for me - loaded all the jars with just one click

The International Obfuscated C Code Contest (3, Funny)

3770 (560838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773077)


Make it the goal of next years International Obfuscated C Code Contest.

I'm sure we'll get a really cryptic one liner that actually is a fully functional RDF browser.

This is the future of the web (4, Informative)

Nooface (526234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773098)

Browsing metadata is the next frontier in the evolution of the web. Some of the other RDF browsers popping up include Gnowsis [gnowsis.org], MIT Haystack [mit.edu], and Fenfire [nongnu.org].

With the growth of the Internet, the value of data itself is dropping, while the value of metadata (i.e. "data about data") increases, introducing a need for tools that can manipulate metadata. That is what RDF is all about - standardizing a way to represent metadata. It is not a standard for the metadata itself...those standards will be determined the same way everything else is on the Internet: with the best solutions rising to the top.

The most common objections to this scenario?
a) "Nobody will bother entering metadata". Wrong...it's already happening. Users are voluntarily generating metadata all the time. Just check out sites like flickr [flickr.com] (photo blogging) and del.icio.us [del.icio.us] (collaborative bookmarks), not to mention Amazon reviews and Ebay ratings.
b) "RDF tags will just be abused with spam, trolls, and other useless info". A variety of techniques are emerging that are designed to protect the integrity of user-contributed data, including trust metrics [moloko.itc.it] like Slashdot's own distributed moderation [umich.edu] (PDF) or Advogato [advogato.org].

Re:This is the future of the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773285)

Browsing metadata is the next frontier in the evolution of the web.

Maybe.. and RDF will probably have nothing to do with it.

I like your examples of metadata success: del.icio.us and slashdot. Oh boy. Semantic web, here I come!

The Semantic web will never happen. There's absolutely no incentive for people to create, maintain, and verify useful metadata.

Re:This is the future of the web (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773601)

There's absolutely no incentive for people to create, maintain, and verify useful metadata.

This article in Wired [wired.com] describes the incentives in some detail.

Re:This is the future of the web (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773457)

If it's the future of the web, how well does it support pr0n? (Sure, laugh, but you know it's true.)

AI community claims Snake Oil 2004 is "the future" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773534)

So this year the AI community claims that their latest snake oil is "the future". What a big surprise. What was it before this? Expert systems? Semantic nets? Oh, better not mention that cuz it is what the semantic web is a recycling of.

This business isn't vaporware.. (2, Interesting)

kidlinux (2550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773102)

Check out Semaview Inc. [semaview.com] who's making a business of RDF. They've already got one good product [eventsherpa.com] out. They're somewhat OSS friendly, too.

Personally, I think eventSherpa is pretty neat.

(Disclaimer: I know the CEO.)

Re:This business isn't vaporware.. (0, Troll)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773665)

Each new wave of bullshit from the AI community lives for about 5-8 years before it completely dies on its lies and crap.

dd if=/dev/random bs=1 count=999 2/dev/null (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773189)

78354f3a8444e5d4e05292f6ff361964422a0cc504d9fdbd9f 17979425a5
91b16f77687438a099896ea694666893146496 ba6fbf96b070 4d1cca66c4
e63aaccecc4ec988830e0d3b129cc8d40c0a4b 23436897b546 14587866e9
6fe5c064cd8afc32f3af0d436f90a506ee274e 1f288d6e2068 3723de0cc4
9afe02ca70d387d4b4b566f6e72dacf2c98202 eecf40c78848 8bbbced774
bce74afb46346cdfe703d38ec702750c3aa427 f4079ccc5603 20b9d9d19b
f8f4de392e5ffcc9f65108edb51c78f9a9922d 477b51c6cb04 77a2b9d074
73f24552d12652c852a223bfdb69974e03c14c b7a198532910 3c22bdbe42
612be7b633d2d6182b1e355d86c87cb653604d 558e5292f5db f04bcbf786
fed471c19bc3ada261ab4bed80f0d9b413c758 3fc1066c984b e6b85c72e9
535374a9b3bab99a6511bddc6e14b8d140aec5 36790b0ce130 47b0d74990
4f0af877b5e608e91269c7573fed08e582fcb3 814612b3efad c8c80ac561
57be36efb224bb81a02144d6ec88d7daf45afe 753ca7252780 260fa0ae07
42e6dbb00b3d96dcb931362b5a305285fe3205 9b4829bd79dd 42028ecd55
fe8eb192208af48af617f509714c0d581b0e8f 53ae552054bf 135b3d2809
4d62e5555eec81161e8579f74fde617c476af4 f7a67ce760ce 3cc8e80ab5
870e79f84090101da8b11b82579f9b4fd9f66e 306d313d37bf 73ce685f9c
add8463caf86fc0ab97494d5d18b5b8effdfff d706820ca7b8 ac9cad5566
14eda36939d1421a8f2ae08d248656fd5bc52f 3081cce0ebc4 3c3f8038ab
7009817315c5ef1e85cd39289cf64376cca57a 93363ae78a38 0c5fb0fceb
754f9f8c4d159c44290ad7351dd3eb492d9bf3 e556bc058aee b96ddc9d14
e50368f927796791d6e1bb050fa969e96871b5 48a810539011 8d663e7028
452037c39a244d979a8bcbac1c1163d874d60e 5aeac17b2382 94f008ff7c
9b4ce370b0f7ef000ec3bd58eaaed25de268d8 e360e6192593 8cc5318bef
03687ec994122cf10f8ee20ab0589c8e506d34 079c86e257da 125b4a603b
47fab4eb3a495765e0c565ab7a7db293f97d13 63db654c9fb2 eeea5b657e
f475f0a57df485256ff4ec420ef176950eb0ba 537dfd6c7552 720a544a57
251857c41ab2b55962ec0ce9a684a6e9dead82 ef78d37fc36b ebf9d3e8fa
e4a2bd13359a165225349410d5d63b97f010be b2cd4b9c2619 12eaa20576
7ee4e5cbb4a9c2630f322c59aec368f458dcc4 91653f454f85 ed80650b01
3c921485a538fe7d4f134e926d4b48247a49d1 a9d00fbfd229 526a223eaa
c7f67d5a2a3022f12187f0b50035ffa41aa8cf 7bc7e7690cd0 0a2e188a2e
89b56019a6a1d8214b59b060b8cfc7cd0f48d5 59087419897a 4063d7a43f
1194e749f177f23013

innovative? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773216)

This http://simile.mit.edu/welkin/images/screenshot.gif
screen shot reminds me of my big college sophomore year project. Connecting lots of pretty lines together in hopes of impressing people by calling it a neural network. I have to give props though for getting the lines to be anti-aliased.

Do we REALLY want this? (1)

flamechocobo (792168) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773298)

It'd make the internet look like a Tom's Hardware review... *Scanning a page with pointer... Moves pointer over word that just happens to be "thong"* Window pops up saying... "Thong: Type of underwear, usually stringlike, that gives you a MAJOR wedgie in all the wrong (or right) places. *mini link*BUY THONGS NOW CONDOM SEX SEXY BONDAGE $30.00" Things like those would be all over the page.

The wrong answer to the right question (4, Insightful)

dpm (156773) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773325)

I promoted RDF a fair bit back in the late 1990s and even wrote one of the first libraries for it. I think that the idea of machine-readable data on the web is a very good one (and probably more scalable than the whole Web Services thing), but six or so years later, I don't think that RDF is it.

The trouble is that RDF (and OWL) try to do too much, getting all tangled up in the arcana of knowledge representation, and the Semantic Web thing has only muddied the waters further -- the screenshot is a stunning graphic representation of the mess that RDF has gotten itself into (I'll assume that it's serious, since it's a long time until 1 April).

All we really need for a data web is a bunch of XML files online that make references to each other for machines to follow, the same way that web pages make links -- in other words, a data web would be a distributed database, the same way that the document web is a distributed hypertext system. RDF reminds me more of the complex pre-HTML hypertext systems of the late 1980s than of the successful, simple formats and protocols that drive the Web.

Narcissism (5, Insightful)

pico303 (187769) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773329)

Almost everybody here seems to be missing the point: RDF isn't for you--it's for your computer. The point of RDF and the Semantic Web is to structure knowledge so that programs can interact with one another to perform better, even in some cases simulating intelligent decisions. Unless you're working in developing Semantic Web technology, you should never have to look at an RDF document.

It's not a wiki. It's not a new way to see metadata. It's your softwares' version of the WWW.

It's not always about you humans.

The semantic web, in a nutshell (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773339)

1) people like to masturbate.

2) some people like to look at pictures of naked girls while masturbating.

3) some people like to think about graph theory while masturbating.

The semantic web is the unfortunate result of #3.

Now, while I have no problem with any of these behaviors, I do ask that people in group #2 to keep their sticky dirty magazines under their bed, not on their coffee tables; and people in group #3 to likewise keep their inventions locked in the closet, and not release them to standards bodies or working groups.

So when you see someone in a clear frenzy of sexual excitement talking to you about "ontologies" and "reification", simply smile politely, and call the police.

Remember, these people are the exception, not the norm, in an otherwise healthy society.

Like a rose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773354)

...semantic interoperability of metadata in digital libraries is a beautiful thing. And it doesn't stink half-bad either.

Visualization conundrum (3, Interesting)

SavvyPlayer (774432) | more than 9 years ago | (#10773497)

One trouble regarding many semantic visualization techniques involving large datasets is: the more visually appealing a graph is rendered, the less useful it often becomes. Many projects undertaken over the past 6 years (including Welkin) have focused on 2- and 3-dimensional renderings of a dataspace, using lines, proximity, node-shape, fly-over metadata display, etc. to classify and relate nodes, only to find there is no room left for persistent display of the textual metadata that ultimately drives a user toward the content he/she is looking for.

Marcos Weskamp's Newsmap [marumushi.com] (slashdot [slashdot.org]) on the other hand demonstrates an excellent balance of form and function, emphasizing textual metadata over symbolic graphic representation. How might this approach be applied specifically to RDF? One possibility: 5 axes rendered in a 2d visual space: color (category), saturation (relevance), size (interest), x/y position (age) and text (metadata). Just a thought anyway.

Resource Description (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773577)

Ok, yeah RDF is suppose to describe data so that machines can use it. first off, you have to define what the hell "so machines can use it" means. Who is the consumer of the data in RDF format? Is it a freakin service? an agent? or something else?

A couple more flaws about RDF. Say i go into a library and i look in the card catalog. If I travel to another country, they may have a different card catalog.

OWL is suppose to provide a framework for categorizing data. But who the hell gets to decide? Everyone or one standard body. If everyone defines their own ontology, then the likelihood some other application can use the data and ontologies is very unlikely. If one body defines the master ontology, will people adopt it? Not likely. What's the solution to this problem?

I'd like to think ontologies should be defined by each persion (ie everyone), but there should be some way for users to define who they trust and provide links from their own ontology to someone elses. Without that kind of support, any notion of describing data is going to be rather hard or impractical to implement. W3C needs to be broken up and the money spent on something more useful.

Obligatory Simpsons Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773591)

semantic interoperability of metadata

"I know all those words, but that sentence makes no sense."

Seriously though, it sounds like somebody just threw a bunch of buzzwords together to impress people. I understand the technology and have written software in this field, but I have absolutely no clue what "semantic interoperability of metadata" is meant to mean.

Anal Retentives for RDF (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773592)

Since no one will ever read it, I feel especially safe in stating my opinion of RDF and its brethren.

This is a protocol written BY ASSHATS to be used by OTHER ASSHATS.
Stop polluting taxonomy with randomness.

XXXDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10773608)

of all the things, what we really need is XXXDF. no one gives a rats ass about computers understanding data and using it. Let's do something productive like make it easier to find Pr0n and categorize them better.
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