Sunday, February 27

The Semantic Web and Decentralization

Last week I made a presentation in the 569 class. Here is the slides. It's a talk about Tim Berners-Lee's article in Scietific American: The Semantic Web A new form of Web content that is meaningful to computers will unleash a revolution of new possibilities

After the presentation, most questions are related to "Decentralization". Why we need a decentralized Web? Why don't we build a well-organized central database, shared for everyone?

The traditional Knowledge Representation has been developed for many years. It has a central database, but how to control this database, and who should take charge of it? These are becomming bigger and bigger questions. Usually we don't trust a central database. What if the controller make mistakes? what if he is evil? Also, increasing the size of a central database becomes unmanageable.

15 years ago, when the new World Wide Web was released, as Tim said, "detractors pointed out that it could never be a well-organized library; withougt a central database and tree structure, one would never be sure of finding everything". But now you can see how successful the Web is.

In a decentralized system, everyone is able to express her idea, even when the idea is not quite clear, she can publish the half-finished plan in the Web. 1 minute later somewhere in another corner of the world, somebody might recognize/understand this idea and have a better way to make it better. We don't need a central system to verify the ideas and prove them. Information exchange can be implement instantly, and we can create a new information evolution.

Maybe, that's the power of democracy.

Dr. Lu mentioned CYC in the class. OpenCYC is a subset of CYC, while CYC is a commercial database. It is an ontology without XML.

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