Friday, December 08, 2006

Ask City And The Semantic Web

Ask City is the new local search portal released by ask, and no - it's not a Semantic Web application.  But it should be.

For me one of the main new ideas I took home from this years International Semantic Web conference was that for many Semantic Web technologies there is only a limited window of opportunity to move into the mainstream. If the sw-technologies don't make it on time, other technologies will have been used to solve most of the problems that they where conceived for. The other technologies may not solve the problem as complete or as elegant - but their existence makes sw-technologies a harder sell.

Take Ask City as an example. In a way its a traditional mashup - it integrates data from (at least) CitySeach, Yelp, Judysbook, Ticketweb and Urban Mapping.  Exactly the kind of data integration challenge that the Semantic Web wanted to solve. However, its probably not created with rdf or owl because other technologies where more mature, more tools existed, people understood them better...

And there is the "window of opportunity" closing a little bit - SW technologies could solve this problem in a more elegant and flexible manner - but it just got a little bit harder to convince people of that. Its gotten a little bit harder to show a visible(!) added benefit when people already see large scale web information integration happening without rdf.