The point is there’s a lot happening in the Semantic Web space that is exciting and important, but which is coming from the “Web” side, rather than the AI space. As a result, to many AI researchers this is an unknown part of the technology, and thus the “dark side” allusion.
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The need to organize knowledge in some formal way, such as the expressive ontologies so dear to us in the AI community, is only one way to approach things, especially when there are social processes in place to help one navigate the tangled mess that the Web provides. Or to use just one specific example, as an information retrieval challenge YouTube is a disaster, but as a way of spreading video in a viral way across the social structures of the World Wide Web, it is an unmatched success.
For many AI researchers, this social part of the Web really is like the dark side of the moon. We’re so used to thinking that “knowledge is power,” that we fall into a slippery slope, “more is better,” fallacy. If some expressivity is good, lots must be great, and in some cases this is correct. What we forget, however, is something I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s become sort of a catch phrase in Semantic Web circles, “a little semantics goes a long way.” In fact, something I’m just now beginning to understand, is exactly how little is needed to go a long way on something as mind-boggling huge and unorganized as the World Wide Web.
By being able to, even heuristically, equate things found in different web applications to one another, a whole range of mash-ups and other Web applications become possible. A very little piece of semantics, multiplied by the billions of things it can be applied to on the Web, can be a lot of power.
Semantic Web developers are beginning to understand that our technology can similarly gain use by being successfully embedded into the somewhat chaotic, but always exciting, world of Web Applications. This opens up a brand-new playground for us to explore largely unexamined approaches in which a little AI, coupled with the very “long tail” of the Web, opens up new and exciting possibilities for a very different class of (just a little bit) intelligent systems.