SSSW Day 5

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Today (which is July 15th) just one talk. The rest of the day - beside the big dinner (oh well, yes, there was a phantastic dinner speech performed by Aldo Gangemi and prepared by Enrico and Asun if I understood it correctly, which was hilariously funny) and the disco - was available for work on the mini projects. But more about the mini projects in the next blog.

The talk was given by University of Manchester's Carol Goble (I like that website. It starts with the sentence "This web page is undergoing a major overhaul, and about time. This picture is 10 years old. the most recent ones are far too depressing to put on a web site." How many professors did you have that would have done this?). She gave a fun and nevertheless insightful talk about the Semantic Web and the Grid, describing the relationship between the two as a very long engagement. The grid is the old, grudgy, hard working groom, the Semantic Web the bride, being aesthetically pleasing and beautiful.

What is getting gridders excited? Flexible and extensible schemata, data fusion and reasoning. Sounds familiar? Yes, these are exactly the main features of Semantic Web technologies! The grid is not about accessing big computers (as most people think in the US, but they are a bit behind on this as well), it is about knowledge communities. But one thing is definitively lacking: scalability, people, scalability. They went to test a few Semantic Web technologies with a little data - 18 million triples. Every tool broke. The scalability lacks, even thought the ideas are great.

John Domingue pointed out, that scalability is not that much of a problem as it seems, because the TBoxes, where the actual reasoning will happen, will always remain relatively small. And the scalability issue with the ABoxes can be solved with classic database technology.

The grid offers real applications, real users, real problems. The Semantic Web offers a lot of solutions and discussions about the best solution - but lack surprisingly often an actual problem. So it is obvious that the two fit together very nicely. At the end, Carole described them as engaged, but not married yet.

At the end she quotes Trotsky: "Revolution is only possible when it becomes inevitable" (well, at least she claims it's Trosky, Google claims its Carole Goble, maybe someone has a source? - Wikiquote doesn't have it yet). The quote is in line with almost all speakers: the Semantic Web is not Revolution, it is Evolution, an extension of the current web.

Thanks for the talk, Carole!

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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