One of the things that staying out late does is mess with my blogging schedule and so I don't do it very often. But last night I made an exception, and after the Semantic Web panel, I had some great conversation over drinks with James Hendler, one of the fathers of an important piece of the semantic web.
Interestingly James is one of the authors of a piece of the semantic web that I find problematic called OWL. This is the part of the semantic web that relates to building ontologies. And so it was fascinating to discover that he, in large part, shares my concerns and criticisms regarding OWL's complexity and its inaccessibility for regular developers.
In any case, what was most interesting about all of this is how it lead to an incredible small world moment. Several months ago, Jim wrote an email on the W3C mailing list, where he quoted and posted a link to a blog post I did called The Death of The Relational Database. The funny thing is I didn't realize until waking up this morning and checking that this is the same James from the W3C who had quoted me.
In any case this is what James said at the time:
The blog at , whether we agree with it or not, is why I say we run the risk of missing Web App developers if we (i) don't provide a fragment like OWL Prime, and don't pay attention to the "full" world-- this is clearly someone who gets part of the Sem Web picture and wants things to go that way - The author (who has some credibility in development space as you can see if you read his bio) is saying the RDBMSs don't have what future Web apps need, and that graph based stuff seems to be the right direction, but he says:
>Unfortunately, the semantic web is proof that while a little
> geek is good, but too much geek is, well, too much geek. The
> problem is that the people that created the semantic web
> were just way too smart. In fact if you read even the watered
> down Wikipedia description of the semantic web, it sounds
> like useless abstract gobbledygook. As a result, the semantic
> web is too great a leap from the tried and true relational
> database. In fact, it doesn't even feel like relational database
> users were a target audience for the semantic web architects.
> But whether they were aggressively targeting mainstream
> database developers or not, the gap between the two
> methodologies is far too great not only because the semantic
> web is hard, but because relational tools are being greatly
> simplified, which just increases the gap.
when I talk abut onramps, easier ways to get started, and semantics compatible with Web Developer needs, this is what I had in mind -- this just says it much better than I did...
Last night, James shared great detail about his thinking about these issues, and it was refreshing to talk with someone with such a blend of academic rigor but also a grounded practical perspective. In short, staying out last night was well worth it.