Riding the Semantic Web Fence

The semantic web turned me into a flip-flopper. I’ve heard from both the positive and negative camps. The positive camp thinks the semantic web will revolutionize the web. The negative camp thinks the semantic web is nothing more than fancy metadata. I have yet to hear from anyone sitting in the middle. I think I might be the only one…

At first, I leaned toward the negative camp. I wasn’t seeing any real applications and the conferences I attended didn’t help much. Then came along SearchMonkey and OpenCalais and I was square in the positive camp. I officially flip-flopped and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

While researching SearchMonkey, I was led to Swoogle. I became excited about Swoogle for a couple of reasons: 1. It is a semantic search engine; 2. It came out of my alma mater, UMBC. I was thrilled to learn that my medium-sized, liberal arts school grew up to be an Honor’s University researching semantic web technologies. I felt like I just reconnected to one of my former lives…

That reconnect was quickly lost. After reading the multitude of web pages that discuss Swoogle, I found a web page that states the project ended in December 2006. Was Swoogle a victim of being ahead of its time? Did it fail? I have no idea because no one from Swoogle replied to my inquiry. I tried contacting a Swoogle researcher and was rewarded with silence. What happened to Swoogle? I started slowly leaning back to the negative camp.

And then along comes CrunchBase, who released what some have called an “awesome API.” I learned about the CrunchBase API from reading a blog post with the title, “Semantic Web by Example.” A title like that always catches my attention. As I’ve said before in this blog, we need more examples of semantic web technologies. And it looks like developers are heeding the call.

I’ve decided to ride the semantic web fence. Where do you side with semantic web technologies? Are you in the positive camp or the negative camp? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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