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November 23, 2007



Nova, you say that Semantic graphs expose their data and the meaning of links through RDF and OWL and then you say other apps can make use of this data. Can you please give a few examples as to how this semantic graph can be of use for other apps?

zeb hodge

Thank you, Nova. This is a great description of how these technologies relate to the web we already know. This is one of the biggest hurdles for us to overcome: explaining what we're so excited about, both to fellow programmers as well as to non-programmers.


Hi Nova, very good explanation of the semantic graph. Its always encouraging for me to read ur blog as I too am working on an ambitious semantic web project :)

John Brisbin

G'Day from the Antipodes, Nova.

As usual, your thoughts provoke more thoughts. Is that negentropic?

The part of this post I'm not comfortable with is the presumption that--just because RDF provides us with a well-formed container into which we humans can pour information about the information--suddenly the machines will be able to use each other's information ["App C can immediately begin to use this data correctly and consistently with how App B uses it"] to deliver an improvement in the knowledge state experienced by some other humans...

Surely the mere fact that RDF offers a structure does virtually nothing to improve the chance that most humans will start to think like S.R. Ranganathan and populate their ontologies etc with logical, useful, language.

IOW: the G3 gambit makes it much easier and faster for machines to locate yet another confusing piece of human-generated information that requires some level of disambiguation.

I think my nagging problem is that RDF appears to be used to store information fundamentally mismatched with RDFs level of abstraction.

The semantic web cannot be driven by more human coloratura...there's no end to the amount of clarification that is required for usefully machine-mediated human communication, no matter how neatly the storage containers fit together.

To me it seems more productive to use RDF as a storage grid for a type of metadata that is more native (somehow) to the logics of the machines themselves. There needs to be more of a state change in the qualities of the information held at the first (or surely the second) order of abstraction above the original.

I understand the need to improve people's habits of describing what they're talking about so that people two nodes away can still get the message. But the whole project suffers mightily when you ask those same messy humans to do the job.



Yihong Ding


I agree with your analysis. To me, however, I have another interpretation about Tim's GGG claim.

I understand GGG to be equivalent to WWW but from a different angle of view. When we talk about WWW, we take the publisher's point of view; when we talk about GGG, we are trying to take the viewer's point of view. Both views look upon the same Web, but gathering a different structure of the Web. Moreover, I believe that the purpose of Twine is exactly an attempt to convert the web information storage from the original publisher-oriented point of view to the more friendly viewer-oriented point of view.

You may look at the entire analysis of my understanding of GGG at Thinking Space.

-- Yihong

Anne Z.

Hi Nova, I left a response on GigaOM but also wanted to stop by here and say thanks for the comment and the post.

I'm not arguing that you can't represent a unified social graph semantically -- I'm pointing about how a unified social graph doesn't really adequately represent the complexity of human relationships. And I'm also wondering if moving towards a semweb approach for the social graph removes too much of the human, since semantic web technologies are all about machine processing.

Seems to me that many people calling for a unified social graph are those that treat their friends/fans like undifferentiated nodes. Most people, however, don't have so many people they interact with online (or so many services) that they need a unified, machine-processable approach. And a unified machine-processable approach has drawbacks (possibility for spam and privacy abuses, a loss of having multiple ways to say "you are my friend," a loss of multiple identities online).

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. :)

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