Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Vision for the Future Web

The context:Danny Ayers recently asked about alternatives to the semantic web vision:

One of the reasons the Semantic Web vision appeals to me is I lack the imagination to think of alternatives. But there must be other strategies for enhancing the Web. As far as I can see it does seem a natural progression from a Web of Documents to a more general Web of Data, and it also seems to make sense to use URIs as the key identifiers. Er… but that’s the Semantic Web.
Readers of his site proposed some alternatives: Syn Web, Padabam and TagTriples.

It seems to me that the all the proposed alternatives are actually just different instantiations of the Semantic Web vision:

the idea of having data on the web defined and linked in such a way that it can be used by machines not just for display purposes, but for automation, integration and reuse of data across various applications
The proposed alternatives differ on the axis of SemiStructured Web vs. Database Web vs. Knowledgebase Web - surely an interesting debate, but one within the Semantic Web vision.

I think the first question when searching for an alternative for the Semantic Web vision should be "Isn't the internet to large and diverse for just one vision?" And I belive yes - it is and development IS progressing on many dimensions, the Semantic Web vision is just one of many. Richard Reisman made a nice compilation of dimensions of the future web: the Content Web (the one we know and love), the Social Web, the Semantic Web, the Service Web, the Spatial Web, the Temporal Web, the Sensor Web and the Communication Web. I have my doubts about some of these dimensions, but the Spatial Web and the Social Web are surely interesting visions for the future web.