Yahoo Researcher Declares Semantic Web Dead

Mor Naaman, a research scientist with Yahoo Research Berkeley, stood in front of a roomful of semantic Web researchers and declared that the semantic Web is dead. This happened last week at the International World Wide Web Conference in Alberta, Canada, as Naaman describes on the Yahoo Research Berkeley blog.

While Naaman, a semantic Web researcher himself, was admittedly using some hyperbole in his statement, he maintains that “the grand vision of ‘A Semantic Web’ will not be achieved,” mostly because users cannot be expected to annotate media with complex labels, as a researcher would, but can only be expected to use simple tags. In addition, developers should be expected to pass over complicated standards in favor of simpler ones, like RSS, microformats, and Flickr machine tags.

“There is simply no hope in enforcing a complete set of semantics for media (or content) annotation on the web as a whole. Which led me to declare the [grand vision of the] semantic web dead,” Naaman said.

Things like tags and microformats are ways to add what Naaman calls “lightweight semantics” to a piece of media, which researchers can then attempt to make sense of with more complex tools and techniques, such as schema mapping, pattern extraction, or semantic analysis. Naaman refers to this structure as the “Emerging-Semantics Web.”

He’s included his presentation, along with links to the presentations of the other researchers on his panel, at the Yahoo Research Berkeley blog.

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