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[ontac-forum] Why Semantic Web Technologies....

To: <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Brenton, Mike" <brentonm@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 07:28:19 -0400
Message-id: <AD3AB9C3AF40B64DA40AAB7DAD8D271C01C024A2@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Why are we using Semantic Web Technologies to solve these problems?

This is a question we get all the time. Of course we all have some level of stock answers, but then there are more and more questions. On the one hand, some of the people asking this are simply detractors when it comes to mew technologies they don’t understand, while others are genuinely concerned about the use of such a disruptive technology. It is these people we are trying to reach by anticipating their questions and presenting cogent arguments for semantic technologies. To assist with this process, our team put their collective thoughts into all the questions they have been asked and we’ve come up with a not-so-exhaustive list of questions. We are putting these questions out to people in the community so that we might get consensus-based, well-structured, to-the-point answers.

Our situation is that we are using (trying to use) Semantic Web Technology as an infrastructure for integration, in-depth analysis and decision making over hundreds of concepts, millions to billions of instances of concepts, and many terabytes of instance data held in our knowledgebases. This data is harvested from SQL databases, extracted from unstructured text documents, multimedia, etc. It is in this context that we are being asked to justify using Semantic Web Technologies rather than more traditional technologies.

Please feel free to group questions and responses as you see fit. We appreciate any and all contributions and welcome input from both sides of the question. Without further introduction here are the questions:

    1. Is there a difference between Semantic Web Technologies and Semantic Technologies and does it matter?
    2. When/under what circumstances are Semantic Web Technologies the best option, and why?
    3. Where have Semantic Web Technologies shown improvement over other technologies, and where it is thought to be able to do so in the future?
    4. Why is semantic technology better than using the relational technologies we’ve used for years?
    5. Why is semantic web technology better than using the object oriented technologies?
    6. What functionality is inherent in semantic web technology that is not available with these traditional technologies?
    7. Is there an advantage of ontologies over traditional relational data schemas?  What are the disadvantages?
    8. Does this technology enhance our ability to achieve standardization of data across heterogeneous sources?
    9. What is the level of open source software support for this technology today, and is it reliable?  What do you see in the future for open source support?
    10. Do you believe the technology will scale to massive data proportions in data systems?  What needs to happen for this to occur?
    11. What does the expertise, i.e., human capitol, for working with this technology look like today?
    12. Who is involved in creating this technology?
    13. Who is working with this technology in Government?
    14. Who is working with this technology in industry (not as vendors)?
    15. Who is working with this technology in the commercial software market?
    16. Who is working with this technology in the academic world?
    17. What is the position of the EU on this technology and when do they project that it will be ready for wide-scale deployment and use in systems?
    18. We’ve been promised great strides forward with XML and have seen only limited successes.  What makes this technology different?
    19. What are promising approaches to getting data get into RDF and OWL formats?
    20. What are the principal objections and areas of discord surrounding semantic web technologies?
    21. Since this is a disruptive technology, what is the risk that it will be successful and available for the “long-haul?”
    22. In what way do relational databases employ semantics in their design?
    23. What is the position of the major search organizations, like Google, on the use of semantic web technologies?

Michael A. Brenton
Stone's Throw Technology, LLC
(540) 729-0392 (cell)
(703) 645-2388 (METS and CMS Projects)
(703) 375-6040 (DoDIIS Data Layer Project)

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