The Semantic Web: Playing Devil's Advocate

Tracking #: 2199-3412

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Aidan Hogan

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Guest Editor 10-years SWJ

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More than two decades have passed since the establishment of the initial cornerstones of the Semantic Web. In that time, the ambitious vision of the Semantic Web -- as an evolution of the Web with better support for machine-readable content, leading to increasing automation of complex tasks -- has been both lauded and derided, promoted and neglected, celebrated and eulogised, and everything in between. Opinions on the Semantic Web are as varied as the approaches that have been taken to realise it (and conversely, to circumvent it). In this paper -- and in light of the results of over two decades of development not only on the Semantic Web, but also potentially related technologies -- we play devil's advocate to the vision of the Semantic Web. We first review some of the external criticism of the Semantic Web vision that has been put forward by various authors. We draw together the individual criticisms, arguing both for and against each point based on the current state of adoption. We conclude that while no individual point succeeds in refuting the original vision of the Semantic Web, taken together they give a sense of the challenges that must be faced before the Semantic Web can answer to its most ardent critics.
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