As a major intaker of information about leading technologies, I am proud to say that at the time of the creation of this blog post, I am ahead of the game as far as declaring a change in the language we use to refer to the next phase of web evolution.
The term “web” has never been stronger. The “internet” goes on as something we mention almost every day. And the technologies that comprise the realm of what we have been calling semantic web, mainly markup standards, aren’t going anywhere.
But semantic web just fell out of favor as a [canditate for a] useful euphemism in our language. The moment this became obvious to me was a few weeks ago when I heard that Tim Berners-Lee spoke at TED and didn’t mention ‘the semantic web.’ A few weeks later I saw the video for myself and felt a certain sadness or abandonment when TBL talked about the geekiest dream ever, one that he created, without using the name I thought we had all agreed on for it, The Semantic Web. Instead, he used a different euphemism for the most awesome library system ever conceived. He called it “Linked Data.”
If you are a Semantic Web apologist like myself you might feel slightly deflated by a sudden change in terminology. I’m sorry. I’m sure TBL is sorry too.
But the reality is that “Semantic Web” is always going to be confused with Natural Language Processing, which is also a field of technology that is growing fast in its own right.
No sustaining buzz has really caught on with “the semantic web,” as a catch phrase, beyond us geeks that are already sold on the idea. Instead, we’ve recently heard more and more announcements (made usually by search companies) that include the word semantic as if the mere use of the word means that the company is doing something right.
The battle we’ve been fighting as SemWeb advocates is largely a battle for widespread awareness. TBL has said himself that the phrase semantic web wasn’t the best choice of words.
I’m sure TBL spent at least an afternoon considering what he might say to the audience at TED which arguably consists some of the most influential people in the world. I’ve concluded that he intentionally abandoned the phrase, in preparation for a brighter future in which the SemWeb technologies are no longer so easily confused with other technologies. We’ve changed our name.
If you feel the re-branding is unfair, consider who has more right to the word semantic, the Natural Language people or the Interchangeable Data Format people?
Sorry. We need to move on.
The Semantic Web is now called Linked Data. It’s official. Take a deep breath, change your notes. And let’s move on as Linked Data enthusiasts, not Semantic Web enthusiasts.
I will lead this effort by removing the category of “The Semantic Web” from this site and replacing it with “Linked Data.” I’ll do it later this week. I need some time to say goodbye.