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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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  1. January 19th, 2010 at 12:14 | #1

    Congratulations on the Japanese version, this is great news!

    One comment intrigued me – ‘but with less and less ability to find specific things they need’ … is that a strong claim that mainstream search is getting worse, or just a passing note that the more we rely on the Web, the more vulnerable we are to search difficulties?

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  2. Abramovich
    January 21st, 2010 at 05:03 | #2

    I join all the congratulations!

    And let me say a few words concerning Web Semantics.

    Reading in 2001 an article of TBL, J.Hendler and Ora Lassila “The Semantic Web”, I realized that the ontological pages should describe Web content in a machine-readable form, and the main their destination was to ground the satisfaction of the Web visitors’ needs. The rebranding of this idea has led to occurrence of modern tools for the representation of Web semantics. Linked Data techniques as well as the recent work on RDFa, GRDDL etc. aim to integrate RDF more closely into user-facing Web content.
    But it seems to me, Semantic Web founders expected that owners of Web resources must undertake creation of ontological pages.
    Why they do not do it?
    Perhaps, it is necessary to continue the rebranding of the initial idea, and to suggest owners of Web resources to describe in the machine-readable form not their resources, but the needs of users, which can be satisfied by means of these resources?
    Having such descriptions of needs and ways of their satisfaction, it is possible to generate the decision of problem in the course of interviewing of the user.
    Today’s search for necessary information in the Web is related to the forced viewing a variety of Web resources and become too tedious for Web visitors.
    I can imagine that in the future Internet user will be relieved of necessity to look through Web content in search of relevant information.
    People will specify their needs (or choose from available ones) in the most informal manner, using a social network of Needs.
    This semantic network will consist of the connected triples (need, resources for satisfaction of need, a way of satisfaction of need).
    In the course of interviewing of user the semantic search engine will find or generate the actual way of the given need satisfaction. Herewith it will demonstrate to the customer only those documents and audio/video resources, which are related to the found way of the given need satisfaction.
    During long time I am engaged in investigations in the field of automation of the client needs satisfaction. And I will be happy, if results of my research interest somebody else, except people of Wuhan University (China), where I work now.

    All the best,
    A.Abramovich

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