W3C survey finds data on the web wanting

JSON on the up. RDF down as W3C finds ‘negative sentiments’ towards the semantic web.

The World Wide Web Consortium and the Open Data Institute recently carried out a survey of practices and tooling for Web data standardization. The results of the study offer a useful summary of the history of data on the web with its roots going back to Tim Berners-Lee’s original 1989 design pattern for the web and subsequent initiatives to promote sharable, open data such as the semantic web and the linked (open) data movement.

The study enumerates a long list of W3 groups with an ‘interest in web data standards’ but warns that they ‘vary considerably in how active they are.’ This is an understatement in respect of the now defunct Oil & Gas W3 group which peaked at half a dozen individual members before it closed.

The study includes some interesting editorial content. For instance, the W3 considers that the use of ‘complex ontologies’ could be avoided through the use of machine learning algorithms applied to a training corpus. ‘Cognitive architectures’ like John Anderson’s ACT-R ‘have proven themselves in terms of replicating common characteristics of human memory and learning.’

The W3 provides statistics on the number of downloads it has seen for various technical documents. Top of the list is the Semantic sensor network ontology (vocab-ssn) and the Time ontology in OWL (owl-time). JSON-LD is more popular than other formats reflecting the ‘popularity of JSON amongst web developers, superseding the previous high levels of interest in XML.’

Developers often express negative sentiments about the semantic web due a ‘them and us’ attitude with regard to their linked data colleagues, compounded by the complexity of OWL ontologies and the esoteric focus of much published work.

The report is something of a mea culpa for the W3C whose ‘Web of Data’ ‘needs greater visibility both within the W3C Team, W3C Members and the public at large.’ There has been a lack of guidance for communities interested in developing standards, ‘new approaches are needed to sustain the level of resources needed.’ The study received financial support from Innovate UK’s Emerging and Enabling Technologies program and the Open Data Institute.

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.