May 11, 2010
Will the Goals of the Semantic Web Be Achieved by 2020? Results of Pew Internet Survey
For Pew Internet's The Fate of the Semantic Web, almost 900 experts and stakeholders were asked to predict the likely progress toward achieving the goals of the semantic web by 2020. The findings are displayed below:
Asked to think about the likelihood that Berners-Lee and his allies will realize their semantic web vision, "these technology experts and stakeholders were divided and often contentious." Some of the major themes that emerged in the answers to the survey include:
Too many complicated things have to fall into place for the semantic web to be fully realized. The idea is a noble one and gives the technology community something to shoot for. But there is too much variation among people and cultures and economic competitors to allow for such a grand endeavor to come to fruition.
Forget the skeptics. The semantic web will take shape and launch an “age of knowledge.” Early successes will build momentum.
Improvements are inevitable, but they will not unfold the way Tim Berners-Lee and his allies have sketched out. They will be grassroots-driven rather than standards-driven. Data mining, links, analysis of social exchanges will help drive the process of smartening the web without more formal semantic apps.
The timeline of this question is off. The semantic web is shaping up, but it will take longer than the 10 years the question cited.
The semantic web will not really take off until it finds its killer app – something we all find that we need.
The killer app will come when we can ask the internet questions – and that will make things much more efficient. Conversational search will be the key to opening users’ eyes to the potential for the semantic web.
Creating the semantic web is a difficult thing that will depend on machines that can straighten out the massive confusions and complications that humans create.
The track record of proponents of artificial intelligence is just not good enough to justify the hope that machines will learn to understand the human meaning of things.
Human tendencies, preferences, and habits will determine the extent of the success of the semantic web – and probably thwart full realization of the dream. If people take the time to create sites and databases using information standards, then major progress will be made. Yet plenty of factors could, and likely will, stand in the way.
There will be an upstairs-downstairs quality to adoption and use. Elite and specialized users will be able to take advantage of the semantic web in ways that everyday internet users likely will not. Business applications will have more stakeholders than consumer or social apps. Particular activities will be the norm, rather than activities that appear similar throughout the web.
The very essence of the idea of the semantic web continues to evolve, as does every aspect of the Internet; it is difficult to predict what will happen because the aspirations of its proponents are shifting to take account of new realities and current limitations.
There are some applications and activities online that show the promise of the semantic web, among them: TripIt, Xobni, TrueKnowledge, Wolfram|Alpha, Open Calais, Hakia.
Hat tip to beSpacific. [JH]