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Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist: Japanese Preface

January 19th, 2010

Dean and I were very pleased to learn that “Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist” is being published in Japanese.  We were asked to write a preface for the Japanese version — since it will only appear in print in Japanese, I thought I’d share it here in English (pretranslation):

We are very pleased to be able to write this new Preface introducing the Japanese translation of our book. Japanese researchers have been involved in Semantic Web technologies since the very early days, and we are honored that our book has been chosen for translation and republication to make it more accessible to the Japanese audience.

In the less than two years since this book was published, we have seen a large growth of interest in the Semantic Web and the new Web applications it makes available. This includes the commercial interest in new enterprise solutions, in new ways to bring data to the Web, and in the large-scale “Web 3.0” applications that can be enabled by combining Semantic Web data with other Web applications. New terms such as “semantic search,” “intelligent match,” and “virtual personal assistant” are starting to make it out of the laboratories and into the world of Web startups. Turning the mass of data available through the Web into useful knowledge increasingly demands new techniques and new technologies to succeed, and the Semantic Web is becoming more recognized as an important player in the growing Web world.

One of the reasons for the increasing interest in these technologies is the lack of success of that “folksonomies” and Web 2.0 approaches have had in stemming the growing tide of Web information. In fact, just the opposite – new media such as blogs, social networks and twitter™ have led to people spending more and more time on the Web, but with less and less ability to find specific things they need. Without semantics, the Web is turning into a wonderful wonderland for entertainment, but less and less a productive space for solving the real problems being faced by people, companies and governments in today’s increasingly complex world.

As this interest has grown, it has also been becoming clear that critical to the successful application of these technologies is an ability to model at some level. To get a first demo up and running is not hard, but just as a real application of a data base must include a data model, so must a real application using semantic technologies include a model of the information of interest – an ontology. In this book, we provide you with the background necessary to begin to understand, and build, Semantic Web ontologies. As our title implies, our goal is to help the “working ontologist” – with our focus on the practice, rather than the theory, of Semantic Web development. We focus on the “how,” rather than the “why,” so as to enable you to better understand how to use these important new technologies.

We appreciate your welcoming us into the Japanese marketplace. We particularly thank the translators who are helping us bring the book into your language and the developers of the use cases added to this Japanese edition of the book so as to better show how these technologies are already having an impact in Japan. We thus hope this translation of our book will further your ability to develop innovative applications both within Japan and in the increasingly global economy.

Dean Allemang and Jim Hendler, 1/1/2010

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