Over on AnotherAttemptToReinventTheInternet AdrianHoward calls me on suggesting the SemanticWeb is heavy / TopDown and centralized. It's a good question and maybe I'm wrong.

But why does the SW feel more centralized and oppressive to me and, I think, others?

One issue. It definitely is one-level of hierarchy / organization heavier than HTML or plain XML. Instead of creating an XML format for my data I need to have an RDF vocabulary defined by an RDF schema. As such vocabularies are normally intended as standards it seems like I can't start using it until I've got some committee of people together to agree on this standard.

So there is at least one level more of indirection / bureaucracy.

Let's think about the above statement a bit more.

In practice, this doesn't have to be true. I could just talk to my friend I want to share meta-data with and agree a vocabulary with him, and we'll see who else signs up.

But initially this seems to be against the spirit of the thing if not the technical limitations.

But here's an interesting thought. Is it against the spirit?

Not exactly. If you're EddDumbill and you're already hanging out as part of in-crowd for RDF, then you can dream up a FOAF or a DOAP and get instant traction on it.

For someone in the RDF world, sketching draft vocabularies and trying them out with your friends is no different from what I'd call the "DaveWiner approach" of sketching out an XML format and sharing it with friends.

Maybe, this is really about cliques and SocialNetwork power (NetoCracy) more than institutional or hierarchical power.

The reason that it feels harder to get involved using RDF than XML is that the barrier to entry of the community is higher.

But that's not because the community is any more stand-offish. They are, I'm sure, approachable and receptive.

So the problem is that the technical barrier to entry to understand how to use RDF is what makes the community harder to join.

And because the community is harder to join. You feel more disempowered relative to it.

And because you feel disempowered, you get the illusion that this is an oppressive hierarchical / institution.

But SocialNetwork power isn't the same as institutional hierarchical power. It's an emergent hierarchy rather than an institution of authority. (See TypesOfHierarchy)

Of course, I suppose, for 99.9% of the world's population, coming up with an XML format is inconceivable. So they probably feel as disempowered by almost any meta-data development project as I do by the RDF community.

Another issue. Writing code for the SemanticWeb should really just be an issue of downloading the appropriate library for your programming language. But downloading libraries and administrating development environments is becoming increasingly difficult.

There's another kind of competence here : that those can administrate their IDE well enough to find and install the SemanticWeb tools are able to get into the game faster.

Damn! Wish I was a better SysAdmin :-(

See also :

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