Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation just posted The future of the web: semantic, or just structured? that is comprised almost in its entirety of what I had written in a post about 10 months ago. The point of my earlier post was that structured Web content, short of the full-blown aspects and aspirations of the semantic Web, is where the Web was currently at and it represented the natural transition point between documents and meaning interpretable by machines.
I’m honored with Michel’s treatment of these comments and I thank him. It is always nice to see one’s name (and words) in lights, as it were.
But, I also had forgotten about that original post and its sentiments.
This re-surfacing caused me to go back and read and think about it again. (Not too bad, if I may say!) But, with the passage of now 10 months, I also don’t think I got it exactly right. As I commented back to Michel:
But being directed to these words by my feed reader (from a basis that is now, what, 10 months ago?) also got me to thinking. I stand by the words here (and in the full article that I just re-read after a long hiatus), but I would likely say them differently today.
Linked data and the semantic Web are moving at warp speed. Linked data, in particular, is showing the way to pragmatic, meaningful connections. And, for me and my company, Zitgist, that is also leading to a quicker exploration of semantics, class relationships, ontology mappings, and much that is closer to the "semantic" end of the spectrum rather than the "structured" end of the spectrum implied by my comments above.
I frankly did not see this rapidity of uptake and it is very, very exciting.
The lesson, I think, is that structure, yes, makes sense, but, once we taste it, we want to take it further. The role of structure driving the demand for semantics is pretty compelling.
In that regard, I would not equate "premature" nearly so strongly to the semantic Web.
The freight train is now moving through the yard but without any slowdown. The train left the station quite a bit ago. Like most trends, it is hard to see the start and initial pace.
Fortunately, we are also finding that items such as context, named entities, and quality are now becoming themes within our community’s posts. I say Hear, hear!, and Rah, rah! Good show, all. The great thing about opining is that we never get it right!