“The recent success…”

July 20, 2009

Paul Miller writes:

The recent success of the Linked Data meme is long overdue, very welcome, and entirely capable of carrying the Web of Data far beyond its current niche adherents. A lot of my current work involves arguing that more organisations should adopt this approach

There are four claims about Linked Data (well, the Linked Data meme (LDM)):

  1. There is (recent) success
  2. That success is (long) overdue
  3. That success is welcome
  4. That success has certain powers (carrying the Web of Data far beyond…etc.); roughly, that the recent, overdue, welcome success (ROWS) is sufficient to generate good growth, perhaps exponential(?)/weblike growth

My main issue (which is totally orthogonal to Miller’s post) is that I don’t know what the ROWS is or how to measure it. I really don’t know how to figure out with any degree of confidence that it has the powers claimed for it.

I mean, I’ve been there and done that. RSS 1.0. The Dean campaign and LiveJournal dumping all that FOAF. MusicBrainz RDF. Mozilla having RDF Inside. Etc. etc. etc. Not only did these things, afaict, go nowhere, many of them were ultimately quite counterproductive. They are sticks to beat the Semantic Web with.

Now, past performance is no guarantee of future lack of results, so perhaps something is different this time around. But it’s hard to see exactly what. That Yahoo and Google sorta support RDFa is somewhat interesting, I guess. But Google supported a SOAP API back in the day too.

I’ve been shouted at by some Linked Data adherents, usually about how my work on OWL (esp. at the W3C) is evil because it either doesn’t help Linked Data or draws attention from Linked Data or…well…Linked Data is the Semantic Web and the only reason anyone could possibly like OWL is the Semantic Web so go away. I find this puzzling as the use of OWL still seems (to me, afaict) to be growing and in a pretty healthy way. I expect we’ll be hearing about Linked Data for quite some time (though it does seem to be mostly a marketing difference than a fundamental technical one over the RDFing of the past). Perhaps I’m missing the good stuff but the way Linked Data comes across to me is with the big Parasitic Node Diagrams where DBPedia has a link to DBLPinRDF. (Parasitic because they generally are scrapings from existing data. I’m never clear what the value add is per se. I am, of course, sometimes happy to have data in a preferred format, but that can’t be the point of all this. I hope.)

I’d be grateful to any pointers to some metrics about the ROWS. I totally recognize that there may be none or they may be impossible to divine. But I would find it helpful.

And I’m really just curious. I’ve no brief against the LDM except that it seems to be “mere marketing”. I don’t mind marketing per se but I would like to distinguish it from other matters. I certainly don’t think the LDM is a threat to anything I’m doing or care about, nor the reverse.

(Kinda sad that I feel compelled to spell that out even in my not-read-by-anyone blog.)

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