As a vehement moderate (or perhaps a non-academic researcher), I very much enjoyed a recent podcast by Tom Morris looking at the intersection of current tagging systems and other more “unstructured” Web data practices with the more “structured” semantic Web end of the spectrum. Tom’s perspective is very realistic and pragmatic about where current trends are heading.
Some of Tom’s pithy quotes are:
“It is not a choice between one single categorization system and no categorization system . . . . We need to build categorization systems that scale . . . . We need to find a way to bridge the gap between simple and really complex stuff . . . . Web standards are slowly making their way into the consciousness of [Web] designers and their clients.”
What is refreshing about Morris’ perspective is that it avoids the polar advocacies and recognizes inexorable trends. The semantic Web is inevitable because it brings value to users (the “demand side”). It is not happening at the pace nor with the perfection that some computer science advocates may like because that vision is overly complicated and academic. It is happening in the incremental ways of tagging and now microformats that are consistent with the simplicity imperatives that have made the Web what it is.
Tools and tipping points are near at hand for when the network effect of better data-enabled Web pages will finally take hold. Yes, there are issues and hurdles, but much of what is now so exciting about current Web developments is at heart the first expresssions of these trends.
(I do recommend you skip the first 7-minutes of the podcast where Morris is clearing his throat about his planned podcast series.) To listen to Tom’s podcast, you may click here.