Semantic Web Chicken Farms
Feb 8 2008. The Semantic Web community has long contemplated about its very own version of the infamous Chicken and Egg Problem: is it the semantic data or the application for that data that appears first? We always considered Semantic MediaWiki to be an answer to that issue, but now I learned that this is true in rather unexpected ways.
But first things first. Recently, Jim Hendler also published an article about his view upon what he called Web 3.0 (in spite of various other takes on that term), finding that we see an increasing amount of semantic web «chicken farms» these days. Jim did not mention Semantic MediaWiki, probably unaware of the fact that it had already been called «3.0» a long time ago.
And he did apparently not know about Chickipedia. Yes, that site runs our software too. Now that clearly raises the question which semantic properties a person should be reduced to, but also whether FOAF needs to be extended (if you have geek code you might as well have bust).
My feelings about the success of Semantic MediaWiki remain ambivalent. It's certainly nice to see real world adoption, but you also get sites like Chickipedia, AFCGOC, and the «Encyclopedia of Creation Science». That's where free software development really teaches us to be tolerant, but also where we might wonder whether the development and distribution of general purpose technology is a good idea after all. Others have had such thoughts before.
Anyway, my next Wednesday's lecture is going to be about applications of semantic technologies, and I guess I can show some (metaphorical) chickens to my students …