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May 14, 2008

Comments

Richard Hopkins

Whilst I have no particular axe to grind on Semantic vs. semantic, we're beginning to build systems that are constructed from the ground up using semantics (with a big 'S' I guess). Now RDF, RDFS, OWL and the like are rather useful for doing that kind of thing, so I applaud Nova's enthusiasm - but until I can offer my clients Semantic Web capabilities for virtually nothing, they will not do much for the cause... If we begin to build systems using these standards though, perhaps they could get such capabilities for almost free?

David Scott Lewis

How's this for an argument, Nova: What's important is the "semantic web," NOT necessarily the "Semantic Web."

In other words, what is most important is that something works, something provides a solution, something meets a consumer/customer need. The "Semantic Web" will eventually help with interoperability. This is important, to be sure.

But with hosted SaaS solutions, as long as there is a SOA framework for integrating SaaS solutions with siloed packaged software, then everything is (mostly) on the right track.

Sure, the Semantic Web as standards does help, but I wonder (and question) whether such standards are as necessary with SaaS solutions.

The other thing that concerns me is that standards move slower than a tree grows. I've had the unfortunate experience (actually, it was kind of fun, but not terribly productive) to sit on some IEEE standards committees. The technology was at least a few years ahead of the corresponding standards. Interoperability was the key issue. But if someone wants a solution that doesn't necessarily have to be integrated with their existing solutions, or if they can apply "SOA 101" and create a workable solution, isn't the "semantic web" (as a solution) being impeded by the "Semantic Web" (as standards)? Just a thought.

Jilles van Gurp

I think this is a rather narrow/elitist view to tie the technology to a few standards that in my view continue to have problematic adoption in the real world where there is an abundance of mineable data.

Semantics of (S)semantic is a very unproductive discussion in my view. In my view there is datastructures, ways to convert between them, ways to mine information from unstructured data and most importantly, technology to reason with data. If the data is not in the right format, parse & transform it. Transforming graphs from one format to another, should not be an issue.

The semantic web not being a part of the Semantic web is therefore a problem of the Semantic web tools and not the other way around. The solution is to do what Google does, just deal with it and parse, convert and transform the data as you encounter it into whatever you need instead of trying to coerce the rest of the world to store and exchange information in certain ways.

It's a strategy that works and I think in terms of algorithms to do the really interesting work of extracting and manipulating meaning they are not that far removed from what Semantic Web companies are doing.

W3C based standards have a definite role in helping open up what Google calls the deep web. But so do other technologies such as Atom, RSS, Microformats, KML and the many other dialects out there to transmit information.

David Scott Lewis

Then perhaps what is needed is a "semantic web," furthered by "Semantic Web" standards.

But the key point is having a "semantic web," not following what a standards body decides. In other words, making it work, rather than agreement by a committee.

I've been on my share of IEEE standards committees. There was always less concern about making something work versus making something compatible. Although compatibility is certainly desirable, it's more important to make something work.

For example, a semweb end user couldn't care less about the standards: They just want something that works. (True for just about all core technologies underlying a standard.) And with a SaaS-based solution, following standards may be less important as long as their is a SOA framework for integration.

Bottom line: Whether Freebase or Powerset uses "Semantic Web" standards is far less important than whether they're helping create a "semantic web." (This is a relative statement.) Don't get too hung up on standards, especially with a SaaS-based solution. APIs and connectors can certainly do the trick; you don't need the same level of interoperability as one might with siloed apps.

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Nova's Trip to Edge of Space

  • Stepsedgestratosphere
    In 1999 I flew to the edge of space with the Russian air force, with Space Adventures. I made it to an altitude of just under 100,000 feet and flew at Mach 3 in a Mig-25 piloted by one of Russia's best test-pilots. These pics were taken by Space Adventures from similar flights to mine. I didn't take digital stills -- I got the whole flight on digital video, which was featured on the Discovery Channel.

Nova & Friends, Training For Space...

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    In 1999 I was invited to Russia as a guest of the Russian Space Agency to participate in zero-gravity training on an Ilyushin-76 parabolic flight training aircraft. It was really fun!!!! Among other people on that adventure were Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize and Zero-G Corporation), Bijal Trivedi (a good friend of mine, science journalist), and "Lord British" (creator of the Ultima games). Here are some pictures from that trip...

People I Like

  • Peter F. Drucker
    Peter F. Drucker was my grandfather. He was one of my principal teachers and inspirations all my life. My many talks with him really got me interested in organizations and society. He had one of the most impressive minds I've ever encountered. He died in 2005 at age 95. Here is what I wrote about his death. His foundation is at http://www.pfdf.org/
  • Mayer Spivack
    Mayer Spivack is my father; he's a brilliant inventor, cognitive scientist, sculptor, designer and therapist. He also builds carbon fiber trimarans in his spare time, and studies animal intelligence. He is working on several theories related to the origins of violence and ways to prevent it, new treatments for learning disabilities, and new theories of cognition. He doesn't have a Web site yet, but I'm working on him...
  • Marin Spivack
    Marin Spivack is my brother. He is the one of the only western 20th generation lineage holders of the original Chen Family Tai Chi tradition in China. He's been practicing Tai Chi for about 6 to 10 hours a day for the last 10 years and is now one of the best and most qualified Tai Chi teachers in America. He just returned from 3 years in China studying privately with a direct descendant of the original Chen family that created Tai Chi. The styles that he teaches are mainly secret and are not known or taught in the USA. One thing is for sure, this is not your grandmother's Tai Chi: This is serious combat Tai Chi -- the original, authentic Tai Chi, not the "new age" form that is taught in the USA -- it's intense, physically-demanding, fast, powerful and extremely deadly. If you are serious about Tai Chi and want to learn the authentic style and applications, the way it was meant to be, you should study with my brother. He's located in Boston these days but also travels when invited to teach master classes.
  • Louise Freedman
    Louise specializes in art-restoration. She does really big projects like The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Gardner Museum and Harvard University. She's also a psychotherapist and she's married to my dad. She likes really smart parrots and she knows how to navigate a large sailboat.
  • Kris Thorisson
    Kris has been working with me for years on the design of the Radar Networks software, a new platform for the Semantic Web. He has a PhD from the MIT Media Lab. He designs intelligent humanoids and virtual realities. He is from Iceland, which makes him pretty cool.
  • Kimberly Rubin
    Kim is my girlfriend and partner, and also a producer of 11 TV movies, and now an entrepreneur in the pet industry. She is passionate about animals. She has unusual compassion and a great sense of humor.
  • Kathleen Spivack
    Kathleen Spivack is my mother. She's a poet, novelist and creative writing teacher. She was a personal student of Robert Lowell and was in the same group of poets with Silvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop and Anne Sexton. She coaches novelists, playwrites and poets in France and the USA. She teaches privately and her students, as well as being published, have won many of the top writing prizes.
  • Josh Kirschenbaum
    Josh is a visual effects whiz, director and generalist hacker in LA. We have been pals and collaborators since the 1980's. Josh is probably going to be the next Jim Cameron. He's also a really good writer.
  • Joey Tamer
    Joey is a long-time friend and advisor. She is an expert on high-tech strategic planning.
  • Jim Wissner
    Jim is among the most talented software developers I've ever worked with. He's a prolific Java coder and an expert on XML. He's the lead engineer for Radar Networks.
  • Jerry Michalski
    I have been friends with Jerry for many years; he's been advising Radar Networks on social software technology.
  • Chris Jones
    Chris is a long-time friend and now works with me in Radar Networks, as our director of user-experience. He's a genius level product designer, GUI designer, and product manager.
  • Bram Boroson
    Bram is an astrophysicist and college pal of mine. We spend hours and hours brainstorming about cellular automata simulations of the universe. He's one of the smartest people I ever met.
  • Bari Koral
    Bari Koral is a really talented singer songwriter. We co-write songs together sometimes. She's getting some buzz these days -- she recently opened for India Arie. She worked at EarthWeb many years ago. Now she tours almost all year long and she just had a hit in Europe. Check out her video, on her site.
  • Adam Cohen
    Adam Cohen is a long-term friend; we were roommates in college. He is a really talented composer and film-scorer. He doesn't have a Web site but I like him anyway! He's in Hollywood living the dream.
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