A new article by Jesse Weaver corrects two misconceptions about the semantic web. The first is that the semantic web strives to create “one ontology to rule them all.” The article states, “To my knowledge, nobody has ever claimed that there should be ‘one ontology to rule them all.’ Instead, what is regularly promoted is ontology reuse and/or integration. For example, the FOAF ontology is widely used in the semantic web to describe persons; why create your own ontology when you can reuse a well-established one? Integration of ontologies allows for conciliation of perspectives, causing data that use these ontologies to become meaningfully related. Admittedly, there are some rather large, comprehensive ontologies out there, and there are some very popular and pervasive ones, too. However, there is no standard or recommendation that requires publishers of RDF data to comply with any particular ontology. You could even ignore the RDF vocabulary if you so please (yes, even rdf:type).”

The second misconception is “triples all the way down.” The article counters, “This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and perhaps what I say here will offend some semwebbers (I hope not). The semantic web (in my view) is not about “triples all the way down.” What do I mean by that? Let me explain. RDF brings primarily two things to the table when it comes to publishing and integrating data on the web: names in the form of URIs, and a simple data model that is flexible enough for (arguably) nearly any kind of data. (I would like to add a third, meaningful links, but I will avoid that for now.) So when data is published to the web, publishing it as RDF allows you: (1) to identify the things in your data across the World Wide Web, and (2) to structurally (and possibly semantically) integrate your data with other data on the World Wide Web. (I emphasize “World Wide” here to bring to attention the vast scope of publication, identification, and integration that is being achieved.) Fantastic.”

Read more here.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ Zanastardust