Posts Tagged ‘explaining’

Elephant Hunting for Pygmies: How To Introduce Big Data and Linked Data to Your Company

[Editor’s Note: This guest post was provided by Tom Ilube, Managing Director, Callcredit Consumer Markets, and includes additional contributions from Rob Styles, Principal Technical Consultant, Callcredit)]

Photo of African Elephant

If you intend to introduce Big Data and Linked Data approaches to your company you may wish to learn from the way pygmies hunt elephants.

Forty years ago my father took me on safari in remote parts of Kenya. We ended up slightly off the beaten track, in a pygmy village. They were very welcoming and one evening as we sat around chatting some of the young men told us how they hunt elephants. Pygmies, I am reliably informed, approach this formidable task in three easy steps.

Step 1: A team of two pygmies roll around in elephant dung, so that they can sneak up on said elephant without being detected;

Step 2: Pygmy A (let us call him “Joe”) climbs on Pygmy B’s (“Fred”) shoulders, underneath the elephant (“Nelly”). Joe uses a short, sharp spear to attack the soft underbelly and aim directly for Nelly’s heart. Then they run. Fast.

Step 3: Joe and Fred return to the village, carrying an ear each, and are received as heroes as the whole village feasts for weeks.

Mind you, if Joe and Fred return covered in dung and without ears then they are given pretty short shrift by their fellow village, let me tell you! There is also the minor risk of being stomped on. But otherwise, it’s a foolproof plan.

This is precisely the approach that Rob Styles (Pygmy A) and I (Pygmy B) are taking in introducing Big Data concepts at Callcredit, the UK credit reference agency. Well, perhaps not precisely. But let’s see how far I can push this ridiculous analogy.

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Explaining Semantic Technologies to the Enterprise

Lynda Moulton recently commented that over the last year the semantic web marketplace “has been increasingly active; new products emerge and discussion about what semantics might mean for the enterprise is constant. One thing that continues to strike me is the difficulty of explaining the meaning of, applications for, and context of semantic technologies. Those who embrace some concept of semantics are believers that search will benefit from ‘semantic technologies.’ What is less clear is how evangelists, developers, searchers and the average technology user can coalesce around the applications that will semantically enable enterprise search.” Read more

Defining the Semantic Web in a Few Sentences

A Quora user posed this challenge to the network: “How do you explain semantic web to a nine-year old child in one sentence?” The challenge was followed by a quote from Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Some of the best responses so far include, “A web where computers better understand the real meaning of the words we use to communicate with them.” “Hi Timmy, the web is like one giant big book written by a lot of people. And the semantic web is another book describing how the first book should be read.” And, “Semantic web is like the magic mirror in Shrek – you ask it, ‘Can I go to a pool?’ and it tells you, ‘Yes, you can, because the weather is good and the pool you like to go to is open.’”

We at Semantic Web recently offered up a challenge of our own: give us your best elevator pitch answering the question, “What is the Semantic Web?” We’ve received some great pitches so far (listed below) and we’re still accepting new pitches.

Sandro Hawke, W3C – for a general audience

David Wood, Talis – for journalistic research

Mark Montgomery, Kyield – for enterprise decision makers

Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister (not an official pitch) – for government and citizenry

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ ricardodiaz11