This a comment I posted on the Nodalities blog (or I think I posted it. The form submit resulted in a blank page)
It’s ironic, really, that the Semantic Web should struggle so much with semantics!
The problem is that if we present a mixed, complicated, and difficult concept forward, the journalists and media commentators are not going to be able to sort out the tangle of meanings for us. They will present an (over)simplified, half-understood message to the rest of the world. When even a brilliant communicator like Tim Berners-Lee’s message gets scrambled, maybe it’s time to take stock in how we present the Semantic Web, especially to the general media. Maybe, a set of metaphors could help us present these:
The semantic web is a platform (one we already use frequently)! The semantic web is a layer of connectivity (like a concentric ring around the web itself). The semantic web is a series (more than one thing) of enablers (it makes possible, rather than it does)
I think there’s a big problem, obviously, with the phrase “Semantic Web.”
It’s easy for Press to confuse the intentions of SemWeb with those of Natural Language Processing.
Talk about ironic:
NLP is really more about human “semantics” than The Semantic Web is. SemWeb technologies are only really semantic by comparison to the HTML-Web, and they’re only really “semantic” from a MarkUp/database/programming point of view, and still, only in comparison to older/existing systems.
As Tim Berners-Lee has pointed out, the name “Semantic Web” wasn’t the best choice of names, but it’s too late to change it. “The Data Web” or “Web Of Data” or “Linked Data Web” or many other names for it would be more accurate and less conducive to misrepresentation than “The Semantic Web” is. But “Semantic Web” has already stuck, and I doubt anyone is going to change it.
Fortunately, “The Semantic Web” sounds lofty enough for people to think it probably is going to be the next big thing. Unfortunately, the name is deceiving to most people and the technologies would probably seem more or less trivial to them anyhow.
SemWeb is a movement that would ideally be taking place among inspired, pro-active developers, but unfortunately, devs are too comfortable with the tools at hand and there’s no visible eminent market force in the development field pushing for movement beyond the same old skill-sets and practices on the ground, at least for most businesses and the programmers they hire.. For this reason, we should be glad about all the “Web 3.0” hype, and work to inform the press and the public between the lines where and when we can.
For those of us that understand what “The Semantic Web” is, it is our duty to evangelize RDF and MicroFormats where and when we can.
Soon we will be forgotten. Soon we wont need to call the “semantic web” anything so this conversation will be meaningless… I hope.