Semantic Web (30 Jul 2002)

Zooko has gone away again and shutdown his mail server. However, I'm ready for him this time! . I'm getting quite good with qmail because of all all this.

Buffer overflows in OpenSSL makes a mess of a number of programs. However, these came to light because of a number of code reviews so this is an example of open source working, security wise. It would be nice to know that the privsep code in OpenSSH stops these overflows from really doing damage - but I haven't heard anything to that effect. Boxes upgraded anyway.

Also, big bugs in PHP 4.2.[01]. Fixed in 4.2.2. All upgrade.

Programming with Schelog. Pretty cool - for best results mix with the SemWeb (see below)

Today/tonights reading was semantic web stuff. The W3C and TimBL (not to be confused with the other TBL who I have mentioned here before) have been talking about this Semantic Web stuff for ages. This SciAm article (May, 2001) is a good introduction and TimBL talks lots about it towards the end of Weaving the Web. However, all them seem to have is a lot of talk. All the talk lays out a system of logic graphs with a simple type system. The type system is too simple but they hint about DAML+OIL and WebOnt WG as better ones, so why don't they switch?

I can't help feeling that the actual content of the Semantic Web group could have been knocked out over a couple of weekends. What they should be doing is building a good Schema defining relations for many different groups and kniting them together because that's political work and the the clout of the W3C would help lots. Then then can actually start pushing it and say "Here's the schema for a [bookshop|weblog|generic company], markup your stuff and look what our cool tools can do!"

It wouldn't be perfect, but face it, it's not going to be perfect anyway and it doesn't have to be. Worse is sometimes better; UNIX killed the Lisp machine.

(and on a more technical note: they don't seem to have the concept of different relations holding at different times. And, talking of that, they don't even seem to have defined how to spec a time - that's how primitive it still is)

It also occurs to me that one of the bumps on the road for the Semantic Web is that companies don't actually really want to help the customer. Remember how the hype said that web agents would be searching all the vendors web sites and finding the cheapest for a given item? (and this was going to be done by about 1995 or something) Well the SemWeb is a step on the way to that situation and that isn't good news for companies as it forces them into price wars on many goods. Thus I expect that they are going to resist exposing information like that and form confusopolies (that's a Dilbert word, and a really good one).