This is probably a familiar story to many of you who have been around a while, but I’ve lost a lot of my interest in working with the Semantic Web lately, and I don’t see it coming back anytime in the near future. For those of who are waiting on action items from me, I recommend removing them from my plate and putting them somewhere else where they are more likely to be taken care of.
There’s a few reasons for this. One is simply a lack of time: I’ve been working 14 hour days for the past two weeks at work, and that’s probably not going to change in the near future. Combine that with the fact that I need to do job searching as well, since we’ll be moving to Cambridge soon, and you’ve got an extreme amount of time going out the door to projects that aren’t my own.
Another is frustration with evangalizing being part of the process of proceeding in the Semantic Web world. Every time I take a step forward with some code, I find another 5 steps I have to take back in order to defend my position and the way I’ve done it. After doing this repeatedly for several months now, I’m growing tired of always having to spend more than half of my time fighting to defend the way I’ve created a certain project, rather than soliciting patches or getting help from the community.
Another is the lack of widespread support from the powers that could help move the RDF and Semantic Web movement forward. It would be relatively simple for something like IMDb to open up its database in an RDF format. This would allow for a widespread rating system to be created based around the datat that IMDb provides, allowing for a way for distributing information about movies that could be useful in a number of ways. Similarly for Netflix. Similarly for a half dozen other sites out there - but it never happens. Instead, they stick to their proprietary information, keeping everything internal. While this may generate more income for them, it hardly represents any interest in interacting with the community, which is what the Semantic Web needs in order to accelerate adoption.
I’ve had relatively little feedback on the projects I have put together. Things like rdfgpg, redlandbot, etc. all get left in the dust of the work of larger groups of people, with more impressive results (and rightly so). Nothing I’m doing is particularly innovative or interesting, and it shows in the response from the community.
There is much more motivation for people behind things like microformats - something that’s close to RDF, but far enough away (and unlikely to see transformation to it) that it seems pointless. People are trying to create all these tools that take advantage of the small-s semantic web, but not taking the one extra step needed - via GRDDL, profiles, whatever. They think they’re writing the new version of the SemWeb, when in reality, they’re just creating an incomplete imitation.
I suppose at some point, people will start to come around. The world of RDF is powerful. The world of HTML is not. Trying to create semantics out of a language that has none will not work in the long run. For right now, however, people are convinced it will, and that leaves most of the work I’ve done behind as people hop onto the next bandwagon.
I’m going to try and clean up some of the code I have, document it fully, and get licenses attached to it, so that people who want to use it or maintain it can take it up. This is especially true for Julie, which is kind of my pride and joy as far as code goes.
I typically move my interests in about 6 month cycles, so I may eventually swing back towards semantic web development. For now, however, I’m going to do my best to wrap things up, and move onto something different, where I don’t have to fight every step of the way to get things that I do acknowledged.