Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Does it? Will it? Must it?

Interview: David Weinberger "What Shelley calls "the semantic web" is the Web itself. She puts it beautifully. And I agree 100% that the Web consists of meaning; it has to because we created this new world for ourselves out of language and music and other signifiers. But that meaning is as hard to systematize and capture as is the meaning of the offline world and for precisely the same reasons. The Semantic Web, it seems to me, often underplays not only the difficulty of systematizing human meaning (= the world) but also ignores the price we pay for doing so: making metadata explicit often is an act of aggression. Human meaning is only possible because of its gnarly, tangly, implicit, unlit, messy context. That's the real reason the Semantic Web can't scale, IMO.

If by "The Semantic Web" you merely mean "A set of domain-specific taxonomies some of which can be knit together to provide a greater degree of automation and improved searching," then I've got no problem with it. It's the more ambitious plans -- and the use of the definite article in its name -- that ticks me off when it comes to The Semantic Web."
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