Archive for March 5th, 2009

Musing the Future of Semantic Wikis

March 5th, 2009

Just finished the last Ontolog mini-series on Semantic Wiki, and I would like to contribute my two cents:

1. We should differentiate work on semantic wiki

  • Semantic wiki – we download it, and use it. It is a wiki with some semantic capabilities.
  • Semantic wiki engineering – we develop conventional web applications (e.g. CMS, portal) using semantic wiki as the underline platform. But keep in mind that most efforts fall in application design and development, not development of wiki itself.

2. We should worry more about the reality and the end users

  • Similar to the case “we got trained by Google search”, it takes longer time to get users spend more time on adding semantic annotation then editing text
  • It seems we are still organizing content using web pages, but is there any other intuitive way? In particular, how can we enable “one edit on data can affect all pages importing the data”
  • Users are impatient so they prefer speed, easy, minimal is always critical. BTW, “easy” is hard to define, and the end users want “easy enough” not “easier”.

Now I can list the highlights of that great event


  • UI is the key problem, and we are expecting “zero-training”
  • knowledge engineers still cannot be replaced by social systems, and how do we achieve network effects of semantics


  • “keep it simple” is more important than “more power” and
  • sharing data across wiki boundary
  • semantic wiki can progress from CMS to Knowledge management system


  • survey of semantic wiki systems and application areas
  • semantic wiki can be used as a Web engineering platform, a testbed of Semantic Web


  • the identity features of semantic wiki
  • summaries of several semantic wiki instances
  • some features are removed from some semantic wiki: page, text (but is that a good way to go?)


  • semantic MediaWiki,
  • key technologies include extensions, UI design, rule support, best practices/design patterns, and etc.


  • domain applications of semantic wiki: biomedical vocabulary, campus information, math


  • there are several issues that affect all semantic wiki based applications:
    • interoperability – wiki should be an island of information
    • collaboration – does semantic wiki provide enough collaboration support, e.g. privacy protection?
    • usability – it is the key for any web application to survive and deployed
    • methodology – we need best practices

Discussions on the future of semantic wiki

  • how to compete/collaborate with online documents e.g. googledoc
  • wiki will vanish because it is general purposed
  • wiki should be easy, fast, minimal

To find more details and download presentation slides, please go to


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