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Friday, October 19, 2007

Semantic Web Visions: A Tale of Two Studies

Professor Jorge Cardoso of the University of Madeira, Portugal, has
written a very interesting paper titled "The Semantic Web Vision: Where
are We?" Cardoso defines the Semantic Web as "a machine-readable World
Wide Web" and he notes "a significant evolution of standards as
improvements and innovations allow the delivery of more complex, more
sophisticated, and more far-reaching semantic applications." Cardoso
posted to a variety of technical e-mail lists to solicit survey
responses and sent 40 personal invitations. Two-thirds of the 627
responses came from academics and 18% from industry with 16% of
respondents working in both academia and industry. He asked survey
participants to report their use of ontology editors, ontology
languages, and reasoning engines, software applications that derive
new facts or associations from existing information. Refer to his paper
for findings. Over 50% of respondents reported using ontologies for
either or both of two purposes: to share common understanding of the
structure of information among people or software agents (69.9%) and
to enable reuse of domain knowledge (56.3%). These are knowledge
management functions, stepping-stones on the path to the vision of
autonomous software agents negotiating the Web that Tim Berners-Lee
first articulated over ten years ago. Only 12.4% of answers indicated
use of ontologies for purposes that are, perhaps, closer to
actualization of that vision, for "code generation, data integration,
data publication and exchange, document annotation, information
retrieval, search, reasoning, annotating experiments, building common
vocabularies, Web service discovery or mediation, and enabling
interoperability." Nonetheless, Cardoso concludes that "70% of people
working on the Semantic Web are committed to deploying real-world
systems that will go into production in less than 2 years."

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