Mike Bergman recently wrote a strong defense for the Semantic Web, stating, “There have been some notable attempts of late to make elevator pitches for semantic technologies, as well as Lee Feigenbaum’s recent series on Are We Asking the Wrong Question? about semantic technologies. Some have attempted to downplay semantic Web connotations entirely and to replace the pitch with Linked Data (capitalized). These are part of a history of various ways to try to make a business case around semantic approaches.”

He continues, “What all of these attempts have in common is a view — an angst, if you will — that somehow semantic approaches have not fulfilled their promise. Marketing has failed semantic approaches. Killer apps have not appeared. The public has not embraced the semantic Web consonant with its destiny. Academics and researchers can not make the semantic argument like entrepreneurs can. Such hand wringing, I believe, is misplaced on two grounds.

Bergman goes on, “First, if one looks to end user apps that solely distinguish themselves by the sizzle they offer, semantic technologies are clearly not essential. There are very effective mash-up and data-intensive sites such as many of the investment sites (Fidelity, TDAmeritrade, Morningstar, among many), real estate sites (Trulia, Zillow, among many), community data sites (American FactFinder, CensusScope, City-Data.com, among many), shopping sites (Amazon, Kayak, among many), data visualization sites (Tableau, Factual, among many), etc. , etc., that work well, are intuitive and integrate much disparate information. For the most part, these sites rely on conventional relational database backends and have little semantic grounding. Effective data-intensive sites do not require semantics per se.”

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