Imagining the Internet Project

 Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2010 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise. 



 
7. Responses to a tension pair on the evolution of the semantic Web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee


This page includes responses to a question about people's perceptions of the likely impact of the semantic Web by 2020. This is one of 10 questions raised by the 2010 Elon University-Pew Internet survey of technology experts and social analysts. Results on this question were first unveiled at a keynote speech by Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie April 28, 2010, at the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010.

World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and others in the business of WWW architecture have been working to make the Web even more useful; their hope for the semantic Web is to better link data in ways that are useful to those seeking to share and be informed. This Future of the Internet IV survey question asked respondents to look at two statements in a "tension pair" and select the one that is most likely. They were asked to explain that choice and "share your view of the likelihood that the semantic Web will have been implemented by 2020 and be a force for good in Internet users' eyes." About half of the technology people assessed - 52% - said the semantic Web will not be as fully effective as its creators hoped; 38% said that the vision of Berners-Lee and his allies will be achieved to a significant degree by 2020. The numbers are not as important as the information shared in the responses - this is a snapshot of what people are generally thinking in 2010 about the likely evolution of the semantic Web. There was a higher percentage of people not responding to this question than on previous questions, some expressing their lack of knowledge.

To download the Pew Internet briefing, click here.


To read the responses of anonymous
participants to this question, click here.

A representative sample of for-credit responses is gathered below.

OVERVIEW: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has worked along with many others in the Internet community for more than a decade to achieve his next big dream: the semantic web. His vision is a web that allows software agents to carry out sophisticated tasks for users, making meaningful connections between bits of information so “computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.”

The concept of the semantic web has been fluid and evolving and never quite found a concrete expression and easily-understood application that could be grasped readily by ordinary Internet users. Nevertheless, it has inspired many technologists and Internet experts to improve the performance of the web and it is a topic of great interest in the high-tech world.

Some 895 experts responded to the invitation of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center to predict the likely progress toward achieving the goals of the semantic web by the year 2020. Asked to think about the likelihood that Berners-Lee and his allies will realize their vision, often called Web 3.0, these technology experts and stakeholders were divided and often contentious.

Some 47% agreed with the statement:
“By 2020, the semantic web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee will not be as fully effective as its creators hoped and average users will not have noticed much of a difference.”

Some 41% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:
“By 2020, the semantic web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee and his allies will have been achieved to a significant degree and have clearly made a difference to average Internet users.”

Experts generally agreed that progress will continue to be made in making the web more useful and information retrieval and assessment more meaningful. They recognized the fact that there are already elements and programs of the semantic web in place that are helping people more easily navigate their lives. While many survey participants noted that current and emerging technologies are being leveraged toward positive web evolution in regard to linking data, there was no consensus on the technical mechanisms and human actions that might lead to the next wave of improvements – nor how extensive the changes might be.

Many think Berners-Lee’s vision will take much longer to unfold than the 2020 timeline posited by the question. Critics noted that human uses of language are often illogical, playfully misleading, false or nefarious, thus human semantics can never be made comprehensible to machines. Some 12% of those who responded to the survey did not venture a guess about the future of the semantic web – itself a sign that there is still a good deal of uncertainty and confusion about the topic even among those who are quite connected to the tech world.

The Wikipedia entry on the semantic web elaborates the idea this way: “The semantic web is a vision of information that is understandable by computers, so computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.” In his 1999 book “Weaving the Web,” Berners-Lee said: “I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘semantic web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.”

People commonly refer to the semantic web as the next generation of the World Wide Web – or, sometimes. Web 3.0. The hope is that it might improve data aggregation to such an extent over the next decade that an Internet search that now yields hundreds or thousands or millions of responses (many not associated with the searcher’s needs) will generally deliver only the specific information she seeks.

The concept is so revolutionary that people have difficulty describing it in just so many words and its proponents self-consciously struggle to describe the “killer app” for the semantic web that will make users understand its power – and support its creation. Berners-Lee describes it as “getting one format across applications” so the semantic web standards can enable people to gain access to the information they want and use it any way they want, for instance, being able to mesh data from a personal bank statement and a personal calendar. He has said he would like to see a future web that allows people to connect their ideas with the ideas of others, building a system for people to share parts of ideas in a way that can make them whole.

Success for the semantic web will depend upon people working together to accept its standards (GRDDL, RDFa, OWL, SPARQL, and others) and its naming and tagging ontologies. Sites already implementing semantic web elements include DBpedia, Twine, Garlik, GeoNames, RealTravel, and MetaWeb.

The semantic web has some vocal opponents and critics. One is blogger, author, and speaker Cory Doctorow who described in a 2001 essay titled, “Metacrap: Putting the Torch to Seven Straw-Men of the Meta-topia” what he considered to be the seven obstacles to getting reliable data: People are lazy; people cannot accurately observe themselves; people lie; people are stupid; schema are not neutral; metrics influence results; and there’s more than one way to describe something.

Another critic is author, blogger, and professor Clay Shirky. In a 2003 column titled, “The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview” he wrote, “The semantic web is a machine for creating syllogisms…despite their appealing simplicity, syllogisms don’t work well in the real world because most of the data we use is not amenable to such effortless recombination …. There is a list of technologies that are actually political philosophy masquerading as code, a list that includes Xanadu, Freenet, and now the semantic web … like many visions that project future benefits but ignore present costs, it requires too much coordination and too much energy to effect in the real world, where deductive logic is less effective and shared worldview is harder to create than we often want to admit.”

Shirky did concede, however, that some positive results will come from the efforts made toward creating a semantic web.

Accompanying the hopes for the semantic web and other Internet development are fears about the future of privacy and identity and the need for security in an architecture in which growing amounts of information are shared in a worldwide data cloud. For instance, security is vital for companies and individuals who employ semantic web products and technologies. When search for aggregated data becomes more specific, a simple search for a person’s name can yield health records, parking tickets, mortgages, signatures, travel records, video-viewing habits, and any other recordable, databased information. People’s Web-search histories, financial transactions, mailing lists, and surveillance photography of them and their homes are being collected and can be accessed, forming a “digital shadow” for every individual and group on record.

Respondents’ thoughts

With that all as background, here are some of the major themes that emerged in the answers to our survey:

Too many complicated things have to fall into place for the semantic web to be fully realized. The idea is a noble one and gives the technology community something to shoot for. But there is too much variation among people and cultures and economic competitors to allow for such a grand endeavor to come to full fruition.

• “There will be more and better meta-information, but it will continue to be opportunistic, siloed, and ad hoc in 2020.” –Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, Internet law professor at the University of Michigan, former special assistant in the Obama administration for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy; http://scrawford.net/blog/about/

• “Life is messy. So's the Internet." –Jeff Jarvis, author of “What would Google Do?”, associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program and the new business models for news project at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism; http://www.buzzmachine.com/about-me/

• ”Alas, the semantic web is an idea that owes more to the desires of computing scientists and information theorists for a world of perfected knowledge and processed reason than to reality. The semantic web is like the Encyclopaedia of the Modern project: an ideal whose existence enables us to make progress but that can never be achieved because it fails to account for the cultural malleability of knowledge, the political economy of information, and – ultimately – the agency of humans, with their machines, in subverting the ideals of pure reason to the partial ends of personal gain.” –Matthew Allen, director of the department of Internet Studies at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University of Technology, and critic of social uses and cultural meanings of the Internet; http://www.netcrit.net/

• “The semantic web depends on cooperation by commercial vendors, and what we have seen most often is not cooperation but rather selfish and non-sharing behaviour. Look at Apple, for example, which has its own proprietary stack for the iPhone. Or Facebook, which consumes data, but only in very rare cases shares it. Where the semantic web will be most effective will be in informal, non-commercial and underground activities – but in this environment the rigid formality that characterizes the semantic web cannot be enforced. Instead, we will get a roughly interoperative polyglot, as characterized, for example, by RSS. From time to time these will surface and become widespread, breaking the commercial companies' proprietary monopoly. But it will be an ongoing struggle, and semantic web applications will struggle to become mainstream.” –Stephen Downes, senior research officer, National Research Council of Canada, and specialist in online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy; http://www.downes.ca/me/index.htm

• "It's been a decade and everyone still says ‘semantic what?’ Do we really need another decade to figure this out?” —Stuart Schechter, Microsoft Research; http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/stus/

• "Semantic web is a lost cause. Berners-Lee looked at the landscape, picked out certain features, bundled them together and called it semantic web. But, unfortunately, to 99% of the population, the semantics of this term, i.e. the meaning of it, is a total mystery. As a result, nobody is demanding it, and it will not happen. However, some of the features that were bundled under this umbrella, will become more common, in certain contexts. Semantic web tried to boil the ocean, and failed, as one would expect.”–Michael Dillon, network consultant at BT and a career professional in IP networking since 1992, member of BT’s IP Number Policy Advisory Forum; http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/michael-dillon/4/663/4B

• “I don't like answering this question in the negative, but I understand Berners-Lee's concept of the semantic web as being more structured than the various collections of folksonomies and APIs that we have today, and I don't foresee us progressing far in that direction in the coming 10 years. A more structured web can be enabled by enhancements to HTML, for example, but getting people to adopt those enhancements and use them consistently and regularly is another matter. There are also the issues of human language to be considered; linkages across languages will remain problematic. Even if a semantic web emerges for the English-language web, what about everyone else?” –Mindy McAdams, Knight Chair in journalism, University of Florida, author, “Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages,” journalist, http://mindymcadams.com/index.htm

• “Just as it is impossible to prevent slang, argot, and creoles from forming, so we will continue to demonstrate polymorphous perversity in our expression and knowledge production." –Sandra Braman, professor in the Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and expert on the macro-level effects of new information technologies; https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/braman/www/html/bio.html

• “The semantic web concept disregards the fundamental fuzziness and variability of human communication. It may allow us to cope with the huge quantity of information available in electronic form and may provide some initial order, but the latter won't be any more effective than earlier knowledge organization systems have been. The proliferation of agents coupled with the lack of authority may indeed lead to much less effective results.” –Michel J. Menou, Ph.D, information science, independent consultant in ICT policy, visiting professor and associate researcher, School of Library, Archives and Information Services, University College London; http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/menoum/menoum.php

• “There is too much work involved on the part of website owners for the semantic Web to work. Various efforts to put more meta-data on web pages have not worked. It's hard to see why the SW should be different.” –Peng Hwa Ang, dean of the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and active leader in the global Internet governance processes of WSIS and IGF; http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/sci/about/profile_AngPengHwa.html

• “I love the semantic web, but I still see the construction costs being FAR too high to meet the lofty goals of TBL et al. Just look at the state of CMS [content management systems]. Well-built HTML is still a rarity, add on top of that the requirements of microformats, RDF, OWL, or similar techniques and it will only find practical applications within formalized information systems such as Wikipedia, IMDB, etc.” –Roarke Lynch, Director, NetSmartz Workshop for the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children

• “The key problem with the semantic web is the problem of false data and trust. I think it is a great idea in theory, and many of these principles of the semantic web will be more deeply integrated into the services we use, but an automated web-for-machines that automatically make better decisions for us because of the data they export is a pipedream.” –David Sifry, founder of Technorati and CEO of Offbeat Guides; http://www.sifry.com/alerts/about/

Forget the skeptics. The semantic web will take shape and launch an “age of knowledge.” Early successes will build momentum.

• “Within the next 10 years, the semantic web will take us from the age of information to the age of knowledge. Simple tools and services will allow individuals, corporations and governments to quickly glean meaning from the vast amounts of data they have compiled. This move from a ‘World Wide Web’ to a ‘world wide database’ will allow for hidden relationships and connections to quickly surface, driving both innovation and (unfortunately) exploitation. The impact of the semantic web will be substantial. It will help create new industries, influence campaign strategies and lead to ground-breaking discoveries in both science and medicine.” –Bryan Trogdon, president of First Semantic, http://www.ted.com/profiles/view/id/63628

• “Yes, but we won't call it that... and, as in the second option, no one will notice.” –Esther Dyson, founder and CEO of EDventure, investor and serial board member, journalist and commentator on emerging digital technology; http://www.edventure.com/new-bio.html

• “It may not be implemented fully as envisioned, but the value of a semantic web will become transparent. Early successes will demonstrate its value leading others to experiment with semantic technology.” –Robert Cannon, senior counsel for Internet law at the US Federal Communications Commission; http://www.cybertelecom.org/cannon.htm

• “The establishment of the Web Science Trust is a key aspect of what is going on here. The web is coming of age, and the need for a new science is well understood. Tim [Berners-Lee] is driving this. It is a logical and evolutionary step that is being taken today, and builds upon the work he's driven as well as catalysed in the semantic web and in Linked Data." –JP Rangaswami, chief scientist, British Telecommunications; http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jprangaswami

• “Developments continue all the time in finding ways to associate online content and retrieve patterns from them. Meaning will be increasingly extractable.” –Ron Rice, Ph.D, co-director of the Center for Film, Television and New Media, University of California-Santa Barbara, divisional officer, International Communication Association and Academy of management; http://www.comm.ucsb.edu/faculty/rrice/bio.htm

• “When I think of the semantic web I think of ‘intelligent applications.’ These could be as simple as smarter web browsers and e-mail clients that can understand natural language instructions and complete more complex tasks like automatically booking flights for us, emailing friends and marking our calendars. It could also be systems that can process data from multiple linked sources and arrive at something new. Like a corporate system that evaluates the areas of expertise of its employees and recommends optimal project teams. Or a knowledge-management system that can tell you whether a particular idea you just thought of is already being worked on by someone else. The problem with the web today is that it’s mostly designed for people to understand. But the applications we use to make life easier all have a hard time making sense of information. The semantic web changes that.” –Chris Marriott, Acxiom Corporation and digital marketing advisor for the Association of National Advertisers

• “I'm saying yes to this one more because I wish it and hope for it than that I know or feel it to be the clear shape of things to come. I think we're still at the beginning of the semantic Web. I hope that by 2020 it's at least a healthy toddler.” –Joshua Freeman, director of interactive services, Columbia University Information Technology; http://www.linkedin.com/in/jfreeman

Improvements are inevitable, but they will not unfold the way Tim Berners-Lee and his allies have sketched out. They will be grassroots-driven rather than standards-driven. Data mining, links, analysis of social exchanges will help drive the process of smartening the web without more formal semantic apps.

• "I firmly believe that the web of 2020 will be substantially more semantic than it is today – but it won't be the semantic web in the orthodox definition promoted by Berners-Lee et al. The trajectory of recent years (especially with the transition to 'Web 2.0') has been one of increased metadata generation, and those data can be harnessed as semantic information, of course – but they will continue to conform to their own, continually emerging and changing schemata rather than to a uniform semantic description language as the semantic web initiative postulates it. This need not make the semantic information available on the web any less useful or effective, however, as the tools for extracting and processing such non-standard metadata from the folksonomic jumble that is the web have also become more and more powerful – but it is a user-generated, semantic web from below rather than a well-ordered, well-structured semantic web from above. It's the triumph of a Google-style 'brute processing power' approach to making sense of the Web over a Yahoo!-style 'orderly ontologies' approach, all over again." –Axel Bruns, associate professor, Media & Communication, Queensland University of Technology and general editor of the journal Media and Culture; http://au.linkedin.com/in/snurb

• “Artificial intelligence will certainly accomplish many if not all of the goals of the semantic web, but I do not think that the semantic web is the right mechanism for helping computers truly understand the Internet. The idea behind the semantic web is too artificial and makes too many false assumptions about the inputs.” –Hal Eisen, senior software engineering manager for Ask.com; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/hal-eisen/0/95/a24

• “My answer is misleading here, because I think semantic technologies are already having a huge impact, and will continue to develop and improve a host of areas in IT. However, the vision of Tim Berners-Lee and other SemWeb evangelists has often been unrealistic – not because of the tech but because of the human logistics and desires for control. Much of what they talked about (e.g., the dentist appt. example) will be addressed more effectively through social computing as much as semantic tech, and the two will be incrementally improved and integrated into IT workflows in such a manner that most users will never notice the improvement – it will just ‘work better’ and be seen as a natural evolution, rather than as a result of some particular technology.” –Patrick Schmitz, semantic services architect, University of California Berkeley

• “I think some form of next generation meta-web is inevitable, but it will probably take directions not envisioned by Berners-Lee or his cohorts. Evolution tends to be characterized by chaos, which trait makes it well nigh impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. Future technology has never really been very deterministic.” –Robert G. Ferrell, information systems security officer for the National Business Center of the U.S. Department of the Interior; http://www.theplinth.org/

• “Many will not bother to code their web pages the way the semantic Web proponents would like us to. Some sites may do this; others won't bother. The Internet will still be a wild west with a wide variety of content and quality and searchability.” –Peter Timusk, webmaster and Internet researcher, statistical products manager at Statistics Canada; http://ca.linkedin.com/in/petertimusk

• “I see a bigger impact from the ‘social web’ vs. the ‘semantic web’ due to the level of consumer generated content and random information that is posted. While we will have more ways to create content and read the content and will be more connected than ever before, it will be more social. The average user will continue to look to friends for recommendations for information – regardless of the form those come in and will, as humans do, trust their friends more than anything else.” –Elaine Young, associate professor, Champlain College; http://www.linkedin.com/in/elainejyoung

• “The problems facing the successful arrival of a semantic web are not simply technological, but lie in significant part in the human element itself. The nature of human-produced content makes it extremely difficult to categorise without loss of accuracy or reliability. In libraries there are certain requirements, and agreed formats, and even then it is necessary to blur lines and endure mistakes. It will take more than ten or eleven years for the human-produced content of the Internet to become compatible with the idea of a semantic Web. In considering semantic web, it is important to note that the sort of Internet envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee is quite different from the one we seem to be developing.” –Francis J.L. Osborn, philosopher, University of Wales-Lampeter

• "I don't perceive that we have a long way to go before ‘semantic links’ become the norm. We don't need systems that are fully intelligent; even dumb systems can appear to do semantic linkages such as matching ‘crimson’ to ‘red.’ Look at the music websites, such as Pandora, that are already moving in these directions." –Karl Auerbach, chief technical officer at InterWorking Labs, Inc.; http://www.linkedin.com/in/karlauerbach

• "The semantic web will have had an effect, but it will not be the semantic web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, but a much more informal one, where meaning will be obtained more out of data mining and other statistical techniques. Also, it will have clearly made a difference to the average Internet users, but most of them will not notice." –César Córcoles, professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; http://obm.corcoles.net/

• “In 2020 we will have a semantic web, but it will be a bootstrapped one, that adapts to the immense amount of conversation flowing back and forth through the web.” —Fred Stutzman, Ph.D candidate, researcher and teaching fellow, School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill; http://fredstutzman.com/index.html

• "The semantic web is an overhyped set of standards for linking data. Sir Tim's brilliant idea with the web was to create a single simple protocol for accessing a number of disparate kinds of data. The semantic web is not such a simple idea, but is instead a series of high marginal cost, frequently contestable ontologies and meta text mark-up. Its not bad, but nor is it simple. By contrast, the genius of Friendster was to call the links that people had online as 'friend's. No, they may not be real friends, but it is a workable metaphor. I parallel this innovation to the innovation of creating ‘http’: simple, uniform and emergent. So now compare the present success of social network sites based on the friend model (Facebook, MySpace, Orkut) to the Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) ontology. The latter is perhaps the most successful semantic web technology. It is has little over a million users. Half a billion people are on social network sites. The semantic web will be handy for increased categorization of data, but it will not represent a quantum leap forward in intelligibility for the end user. Collaborative filtering and machine learning style categorization of the emergent networks based on the simple friend model will make a difference, as will future advances in machine learning in general." –Bernie Hogan, research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; http://people.oii.ox.ac.uk/hogan/

The timeline of this question is off. The semantic web is shaping up, but it will take longer than the 10 years the question cited.

• “By 2020, efficient ways to exchange structured data will definitely be in place and there will be more structure to all sorts of content, ranging from end-user generated content to online government data. Tim's vision of the semantic web – however – means that pretty much everybody will have to upgrade their databases, content management systems and such to something that supports RDF and other W3C standards. Looking at the number of legacy systems that are in place today, *especially* in government, banking, transportation and other places that are highly important to this vision, I remain skeptical that this will happen within 10 years. Judging from what we've seen happen in the world of web services, where REST-ful interfaces are killing off heavier approaches such as XML-RPC and SOAP, we'll probably see a bottom-up approach where a few, simpler methods will fulfill a smaller set of the sem-web vision." –Hjalmar Gislason, founder and CEO of DataMarket; former director of business development at Iceland Telecom; http://is.linkedin.com/in/hjalli

• “I believe a semantic web will come, but 2020 is too early for it to have any significant effect. I don't see how we could deploy the semantic Web in the large without significant behavioural changes, and it takes a decade or two for significant behavioural changes to take place. (Think of how long it took for e-mail to become widespread.) This is a very long process – a GOOD concept, but may be hard to generate adoption.” –Pekka Nikander, Ericsson visiting senior research scientist, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, chief scientist, Ericsson Research Nomadiclab; http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/pekka-nikander/0/43/b98

• “The adoption curve for semantic web will be longer than we'd (or I'd) like. This is a technology that needs a critical mass in order to fully realize its potential. I don't know that we will get there. The concept alone is hard for people to understand and hard for companies to adopt. Add to the current complexity of the technology, and I think we'll see giant leaps forward by 2020, but it will not be commonplace or an ‘invisible’ technology.” –Allison Anderson, manager of learning innovations and technology at Intel Corporation; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/allison-anderson/0/b74/a65

• “The availability of new technologies occurs long before they can be rolled out and implemented on a large scale. I do not see any indication that we are any more ready for a new Internet than we are ready to take necessary steps to deal with climate change.” –Benjamin Mordechai Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, consultant for General Motors; http://home.earthlink.net/~bbenbaruch/

• “As a specialist in mapping semantic and social networks mined from the web and developing from these improved optimal communication messages, I envision this first scenario not being dominant in the next 10 years but in approximately 30 years. Research trends tend to have 10-, 20-, and 30-year cycles and then a move upward to begin another series of cycles at a higher level of sophistication. We have already reached the end of the first 30-year cycle given that semantic network analysis of web as we knew it in the ’70s-’80s was when we began semantic network analysis of material available on Computer Bulletin Board Systems (CBBS), Arpanet, Bitnet, etc. We need another 30-year cycle, I think for the first scenario to come to fruition.” – James A. Danowski, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, founder of the Communication and Technology Division of the International Communication Association; http://www.uic.edu/depts/comm/facultydanowski.shtml

The semantic web will not really take off until it finds its killer app – something we all find that we need.

• “Tim’s World Wide Web was a very simple and usable idea that relied on very simple and usable new standards (e.g. HTML and HTTP), which were big reason why the web succeeded. The semantic web is a very complex idea, and one that requires a lot of things to go right before it works. Or so it seems. Tim Berners-Lee introduced the Semantic Web Roadmap (http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Semantic.html) in September 1998. Since then more than 11 years have passed. Some semantic web technologies have taken root: RDFa, for example, and microformats. But the concept itself has energized a relatively small number of people, and there is no ‘killer’ tech or use yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Invention is the mother of necessity. The semantic web will take off when somebody invents something we all find we need. Maybe that something will be built out of some combination of code and protocols already laying around – either within the existing semantic web portfolio, or from some parallel effort such as XDI. Or maybe it will come out of the blue. By whatever means, the ideals of the semantic web – a web based on meaning (semantics) rather than syntax (the Web’s current model) – will still drive development. And we’ll be a decade farther along in 2020 than we are in 2010.” –Doc Searls, fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University and Harvard Law School, fellow at Center for Information Technology and Society, University of California-Santa Barbara; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/doc-searls/0/0/a54

• “With all due respect to Sir Tim, I think the semantic web has failed to reach critical mass because the benefits aren't clear enough to warrant a wholesale migration. The evolution of practices on the Web may incorporate SW aspects, but it will be too subtle for users to notice.” –Mark Richmond, technologist for US District Courts, founding board member of the National Online Media Association (1993)

The killer app will come when we can ask the Internet questions – and that will make things much more efficient. Conversational search will be the key to opening users’ eyes to the potential for the semantic web.

• "Imagine the ability to access the Internet by asking simple questions such as ‘best flight to London’ or ‘best treatment for heart disease for 60-year-olds’ and then have the semantic web give you certifiably correct answers from reliable sources that are timely. This is what will soon be possible using the semantic web and the GGG (Giant Global Graph) of interconnected tuples of global knowledge (Subject, Predicate, Object). We already have the CIA Fact Book, Wikipedia, FOAF and other knowledge sources accessible via the Giant Global Graph. This will certainly get deepened by 2020. Internet users will be able to ask questions without necessarily having to sort through results. Search results themselves will be much more relevant, timely and correctly categorized. Much time will be saved and the overall quality of user experience in terms of trust and utility will be significantly beyond what we have today." –William Luciw, managing director at Viewpoint West Partners and director at Sezmi Inc., and formerly senior director of products and stand–up philosopher at several other Silicon Valley companies; http://www.linkedin.com/in/williamluciw

• "AI [Artificial Intelligence] watchers predict that natural-language search, which represents a component of semantic search, will replace what some call ‘keywordese’ in five years. Once search evolves from an awkward word hunt – guessing at the key words that might be in the document you’re looking for – to a ‘conversation’ with an AI entity, the next logical step is vocal conversation with your computer. Ask a question and get an answer. No reading necessary. That is the ultimate incarnation of the Semantic web and it will likely exist well before 2020 and will have a significant impact on culture. Barney Pell, whose company Powerset was also working on a conversational-search interface before it was acquired by Microsoft, dismissed the notion that a computerized entity could effectively fill the role of text, but he does acknowledge that breakthroughs of all sorts are possible. ‘The problem with storing raw sounds is that it’s a sequential access medium; you have to listen to it. You can’t do other things in parallel,’ said Pell during our 2007 discussion. ‘But if you have a breakthrough where auditory or visual information could connect to a human brain in a way that bypasses the processes of decoding the written text, where you can go as fast and slow as you want and have all the properties that textual written media supports, then I could believe that text could be replaced.’ The likelihood of that scenario depends on whom you ask, but if technological progress in computation is any indication, we are safe in assuming that an artificial intelligence entity will eventually emerge that allows individuals to process information as quickly or as slowly as reading written language.” –Patrick Tucker, senior editor, The Futurist magazine; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/patrick-tucker/5/574/B86

Creating the semantic web is a difficult thing that will depend on machines that can straighten out the massive confusions and complications that humans create.

• "The truth is that the semantic web is a *hard* problem, and won't be solved until/unless we have ‘sentient’ or ‘conscious’ Turing-capable computers – which I don't expect by 2020. On the other hand, a combination of better ontologies and just greater computing capacity will allow more information to be pre-computed and searchable, so ‘search’ and what I call ‘online computer-assisted reasoning’, like Wolfram|Alpha, will be much more powerful. Mostly, however, people won't really notice, except to complain when a search gives them something other than what they wanted." –Charlie Martin, correspondent and science and technology editor, Pajamas Media, technical writer, PointSource Communications, correspondent, Edgelings.com; http://www.linkedin.com/in/chasrmartin

• “I may be wrong on this one, but people are busy and lazy, and the applications, like text search, that succeed tend to be ones that require no extra work by those entering data – they are by-products of the work we do for ourselves. We include links in documents because they help us and those using our services, not to help Google better estimate the relevance of the document to a query. It might turn out that a centralized approach, where the mission of organizations like WolframAlpha is to add semantic value, will lead to the ‘Web of data.’" –Larry Press, professor of information systems, California State University, Dominguez Hills

The track record of proponents of artificial intelligence is just not good enough to justify the hope that machines will learn to understand the human meaning of things.

• “In some ways, semantic web has the ideals of Lisp or artificial intelligence in the ’80s – it seems attractive on the surface but the technology still has a long way to go. However, we will continue to evolve towards software that enables easier access to real information, improved software reasoning skills, and a continuation of the ‘do what I mean’ philosophy for human-computer interaction.” –Gerrit Huizenga, solutions architect for the Linux Foundation and IBM; http://www.linkedin.com/in/huizenga

• "Having seen the [very!] limited ‘successes’ of artificial intelligence (with few limited exceptions, e.g. face recognition, etc.) since it was first proposed perhaps half a century ago (or more if you count sci fi proposals), I'm quite cynical about how much can be done along the lines of automatically extracting MEANING from information." –Jim Warren, founder and chair of the first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference and longtime technology and society activist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Warren

• “I think very difficult problems related to artificial intelligence underlie the semantic Web vision. We've not made much progress on those problems in decades, and I'm not sure why the next decade would lead to breakthroughs.” –Chris Dede, professor of learning technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education, emerging technologies expert; http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~dedech/

• “The over-stated promises of AI in the last century demonstrate the difficulty of semantics. Machine-learning techniques have improved dramatically so there will be powerful tools for people to infer semantics, however in 2020 most people will continue to work with unstructured and semi-structured data.” –Gary Marchionini, professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US; http://www.ils.unc.edu/~march/

• “Meaning is elusive, depending on context and perspective and a range of human intellectual processes that we still only dimly understand. Despite confident predictions, AI and Expert Systems and other attempts to capture meaning through machine ‘intelligence’ have fallen far short of their hype. The semantic web is only the latest new thing that will disappoint its hopeful champions."–Mark U. Edwards, senior advisor to the dean, Harvard University Divinity School

• “The semantic web is like artificial intelligence. It's always just around the corner in theory, and disappointing in practice.” –Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner; http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/

• “This is the latest incarnation of a long line of futile AI endeavors that have not succeeded and wouldn't do much of what is hoped for them even if they did reach fruition. This one I would not expect to see by 2030 either.”–Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work at Microsoft Research; http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/jgrudin/

• “The semantic web will be here by 2020 but in a modified and evolved form from Berners-Lee vision. As information storage becomes more accessible the ‘semantics’ will be in the applications not in the base web language. With smarter and smarter AI based computing, contextual coding will go away and the base software will do the contextual coding and understanding. Thirty years ago we would have said that a machine’s ability to recognize simple words and signs in varied texts was totally limited with out contextual markers. Today, glorified toys can analyze your yoga moves and correct the form all from an under-$50 US camera linked to gaming device (with how many more times computing power that what it took to get to the moon). I think that we will see a merge of ‘recognition’ technologies and ‘learning’ software to read a text and extrapolate the meaning and links.” –Cameron Lewis, Program Manager, Arizona Department of Health Services

• “The 2020 headlines will proclaim (for the 17th year in a row) that ‘next’ year will be the year that semantic Web takes off (of course, that name will be in disrepute, as will its several replacements such as berner–topia and lee–eden. The false icon of semantic Webbing of 2021 will be known as bernersleesation).” –Steve Sawyer, associate professor, college of information sciences and technology, Penn State University; http://ist.psu.edu/ist/directory/faculty/?EmployeeID=3

Human tendencies, preferences, and habits will determine the extent of the success of the semantic web – and probably thwart full realization of the dream. If people take the time to create sites and databases using information standards, then major progress will be made. Yet plenty of factors could, and likely will, stand in the way.

• "As organizations and news sites put more and more information online, they're learning the value of organizing and cross-linking information. I think the semantic web is taking off in a small way on site after site: a better breakdown of terms on one medical site, a taxonomy on a Drupal-powered blog, etc. But Berners-Lee had a much grander vision of the semantic web than better information retrieval on individual sites. He's gunning for content providers and Web designers the world around to pull together and provide easy navigation from one site to another, despite wide differences in their contributors, topics, styles, and viewpoints. This may happen someday, just as artificial intelligence is looking more feasible than it was ten years ago, but the chasm between the present and the future is enormous. To make the big vision work, we'll all have to use the same (or overlapping) ontologies, with standards for extending and varying the ontologies. We'll need to disambiguate things like webbed feet from the World Wide Web. I'm sure tools to help us do this will get smarter, but they need to get a whole lot smarter. Even with tools and protocols in place, it will be hard to get billions of web sites to join the project. Here the cloud may be of help. If Google can perform the statistical analysis and create the relevant links, I don't have to do it on my own site. But I bet results would be much better if I had input.” –Andy Oram, editor and blogger, O’Reilly Media; http://radar.oreilly.com/andyo/

Sure, there will be some resistance, but there are fairly strong incentives to cooperate, too.

• "The semantic web is going to pretty fleshed out by 2020, as most data will be surrounded by rich frames of metadata that help machines make sense of it. It will be stupid to build new databases that don’t expose this metadata and it will be easier and more lucrative to create metadata layers for legacy data." –Anthony Townsend, director of technology development, Institute for the Future; http://www.iftf.org/user/20

• “By 2020, it's inevitable that the web will be transformed by intelligent agents and machines talking much more readily and effectively to other machines. Too many people at both ends of the pipe stand to benefit for this not to happen. The web, barely two decades old, has been transformed by the development of technologies like XML and Javascript. Web developers have powerful incentives to keep adding functionality and ease-of-use to browsers. This is partly a matter of the sheer numbers of end-users who have made the Internet part of their daily lives.

“No less important is the role that has been assumed by the browser as both the primary window on the Internet at large and the interface for many once-distinct functions, like email and FTP. In fact, the web browser has become so central to the online experience that most people I talk to (including communication studies majors) are surprised and confused to learn that the web and the Internet are not co-extensive.

“What is not a foregone conclusion, however, is the role that Berners-Lee and his allies will play in this development cycle over the next decade. I think it unlikely that the semantic web will grow as a single platform entirely within the control of Berners-Lee and the W3C. There's too much money to be made and too great a temptation to work around a universal set of standards, as has been demonstrated in the past by companies like Microsoft….

“But [the semantic web] faces a number of major obstacles. First, competitive issues. Not everyone subscribes to the vision expounded by Berners-Lee. There's probably a lot of money to be made here, a compelling reason for some developers to create solutions outside the semantic web framework. Second, technical issues. Natural language is rife with ambiguity, a nasty problem that has plagued machine-assisted translation for decades. It's hard to imagine the semantic web as an end-game, with humanoid agents able to operate free of human intervention. Third, social issues. The very success of such a radical user-interface paradigm will pose threats to end-user control and privacy. The more the semantic web succeeds, the more we should be concerned about what we're forfeiting to our agents and those who create them…. In other words, the semantic web should not be seen as entirely benign. Once out of the lab, it will have to contend with the many frailties, and occasional bad faith, of the creatures it's intended to help."–David Ellis, director of communication studies at York University, Toronto, and author of the first Canadian book on the roots of the Internet; http://ca.linkedin.com/in/drdavidellis

There will be an upstairs-downstairs quality to adoption and use. Elite and specialized users will be able to take advantage of the semantic web in ways that everyday Internet users likely will not. Business applications will have more stakeholders than consumer or social apps. Particular activities will be the norm, rather than activities that appear similar throughout the web.

• “Within restricted communities or small families of websites, ontologies are possible without strangling the development of a community, but across the entire web? No way. Never. " –Chris DiBona, open source and public sector engineering manager at Google; http://sites.google.com/a/dibona.com/dibona-wiki/Home/Biographies-and-Photos

• “The semantic web is just now being applied to specialized fields like medicine, music, geography... Google opens a big front door to the electronic library, but SWs [semantic webs] are the card catalogs of the specialized stacks.” –Don McLagan, board of directors member for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, consultant to digital entrepreneurs, retired CEO of Compete Inc.; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/don-mclagan/0/26/237

• “There are far too many challenges for the semantic web to make a significant difference in the average user’s experience – BUT there will be leaders that make good use of the tools that can help to create sites where Semantic programming and tools can be implemented. The Internet is vast, and I think that predictability/vagueness are major issues to overcome in this area.” –Stephan Adelson, president of Adelson Consulting Services and founder of Internet Interventions, a company that promotes health and patient support; http://www.linkedin.com/in/sadelson

• “I do think the semantic web will have taken hold, but that it will remain a specialist and complex section of web development work. The average user may well not perceive much impact on their daily lives, as the impact will be broad but shallow, affecting millions of people in a very small way, adding that little extra benefit in terms of user experience to their daily web work. I do think however that there will be specific business benefits that have yet to be acknowledged, specifically in internal (i.e. private) business intelligence. The ability of the semantic web to not only reveal complex data about a businesses internal machinations, but also to then visualise and combine this data into meaningful graphs that can be used for strategic decisions may well be the killer app that linked data is looking for." –Rich Osborne, web manager and web innovation officer, University of Exeter; http://education.exeter.ac.uk/staff_details.php?user=rmosborn

• “The semantic web might prove useful in certain tightly controlled domains, but true artificial intelligence remains elusive." –Dean Thrasher, founder, Infovark; http://www.linkedin.com/in/deanthrasher

• “I interpret the semantic web as optimized design principles, taking root today. And some principles, in my opinion, do not jive well with average human behavior – either from the perspective of developers or users. It will take a long time to penetrate web development norms, and those principles that do make it through probably will not ‘reach’ the average user until some time past 2020. It will be under-recognized by the average person, fully understood only by IT and web developer communities.” –Paul DiPerna, research director and editor at the Foundation for Educational Choice; http://www.edchoice.org/about/ShowBiography.do?id=30&staffType=management

• “Much depends on the definition. But a lift from the mechanical techniques acting on physical expressions and limited grammars employed by Google, etc., into a semantic level of content analysis will only take place within very limited frameworks, and even so limited, they will be extremely sensitive to the semantic variations and rule changes developing over time as it is clearly manifested in ordinary language as well as in the scholarly and scientific vocabularies.”—Niels Ole Finnemann, professor, director at the Center for Internet Research, Department for Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark

• “The semantic web could give us the power of Asimov's robots. If so, world productivity goes up, and economic prosperity improves – or does it? Whether good or bad depends a lot on access, not just electronic, but intellectual. Will everyone have the education to best use such a world, or does the computer just get smarter so that humans can get dumber?” –Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics, Adams State College, designer and consultant for using computers and telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st century learning communities; http://www.edlyell.com/About.html

• “There is a clear benefit to achieving the semantic web but this may not be apparent to the average user, which in turn suggests that there may be insufficient financial incentive (i.e. return) to investors to bring it about. Business users might benefit, but systems administrators may prefer to stick with user-allocated metadata as a more easily understood and trusted method of document tagging and description. Document and records management systems need to evolve considerably not just to incorporate the semantic web but to offer clear advantages to corporate buyers needing to comply with disclosure legislation (Freedom of Information, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc).” –Peter Griffiths, independent information specialist and consultant and former president of the UK Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; http://uk.linkedin.com/in/peterdgriffiths

The very essence of the idea of the semantic web continues to evolve, as does every aspect of the Internet; it is difficult to predict what will happen because the aspirations of its proponents are shifting to take account of new realities and current limitations.

• “The semantic web is a liquid concept that has changed as technology – and socioeconomic – interests have evolved along time. In a broad sense, the semantic web is about machines understanding humans – their behaviour, their actions, their knowledge outcomes – without these having to tell or command them. In this broad sense, the semantic web is likely to leap forward in the coming years. Augmented reality will begin to seriously bridge the offline and the online worlds or, better said, to bridge analogue and digital worlds. This bridge will accelerate the already vertiginous path towards pouring immense amounts of data in digital format, which will definitely help search engines and all computing tasks in general in performing semantic activities. Of course, the evolution of hardware will also contribute in this, and we are likely to see an understandable ’step back’ in software design: it might become worth it to replace clever algorithms with brute force ones, where quantitative approaches (more data with more computing power) might be better than qualitative ones (related with efficiency based on metadata attached to data). In any case, despite the state of evolution of the semantic web, a point of no return will by then have been reached in the way we understand the dichotomy of analogue and digital, and having entered a new paradigm where offline vs. online will no more make much sense." –Ismael Peña-López, lecturer, School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia, researcher, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute; http://es.linkedin.com/in/ictlogist

• “By 2020, the promoters of the semantic web will change their definitions and declare victory." Alex Halavais, vice president of the Association of Internet Researchers; professor and social informatics researcher, Quinnipiac University; explores the ways in which social computing influences society, author of “Search Engine Society”; http://alex.halavais.net/bio

• “The ‘semantic web’ is a direction for technology development, not a ‘thing’ that can be ‘achieved,’ and whether average Internet users notice not a particularly useful question. (For example, average Internet users don't notice much of a difference from ‘XML’ either, even though XML has had significant positive impact in industry.) –Larry Masinter, principal scientist at Adobe Systems, TAG member at W3C, formerly Internet architecture director at AT&T; http://www.linkedin.com/in/masinter

• “Already the semantic web folks have backed off on their stated expectations and are more interested in data portability and interoperability. Frankly this is not only a realistic move but a smart one. The best place for semantics is in data which structure and metadata and description are essential.” –Paul Jones, founder and director of ibibilo.org, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; http://www.ibiblio.org/pjones/

There are some applications and activities online that show the promise of the semantic web, among them: TripIt, Xobni, TrueKnowledge, Wolfram|Alpha, Open Calais, Hakia.

• “Although the semantic web may not play out precisely as envisioned, it is already having an effect and will continue to do so. Semantic applications already manage email contacts (Xobni), travel plans (TripIt), and searching and finding (TrueKnowledge, Wolfram|Alpha, and many others). The power of the semantic web is that it is using information that is already embedded in our systems to make and display connections that would take much longer to surface one by one. For instance, TripIt uses semantic approaches to interpret travel information; by forwarding a collection of confirmation emails from a variety of sources to a single automated address, I end up with an easy-to-read, integrated itinerary of all my trips, a task that used to require me to find, print out, staple, and keep track of numerous pieces of information. The semantic web makes this possible, and as more semantic applications are developed and released, it will become easier to keep track of and use the multitude of information that each of us deals with on a daily basis. That said, I don't think it will be obvious to most people that the semantic web is what makes this possible – the technology will be transparent.” –Rachel S. Smith, vice president, NMC Services, New Media Consortium; http://www.linkedin.com/in/ninmah

• “Structured metadata is hard. It would be possible to do what Sir Tim envisions today, but it requires a great deal of effort by content creators. It's unlikely to happen for most content unless tools are built to make it automatic and transparent. Systems like OpenCalais are promising, but many generations away from being truly effective. This isn't something I expect to see by 2020.” –Ethan Zuckerman, research fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Global Voices; http://ethanzuckerman.com

• “I believe that by 2020 there will be mechanisms for interoperable computer programs that will allow easy and invisible sharing of data across applications that will make the goals of a semantic web attainable. This will make it easier for all Internet users to seamlessly operate and combine document, data, calendar, social media, multimedia, and other programs.” –Gary Kreps, chair of department of communications, George Mason University

• “The semantic web is here. Pay close attention to organizations like Hakia, for example. We'll see change well before 2020.” –Joshua Fouts, leader of Dancing Ink, fostering the emergence of a new global culture through virtual worlds, a digital diplomacy expert, senior fellow at Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, web activist and founding editor of Online Journalism Review; http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuafouts

Some point out that despite human differences, the promise of the semantic web gives people significant incentives to cooperate in building it. Some say there are no incentives.

• “Once people start understanding the need of semantic web, more and more websites will be based on semantic concepts, which will lead Google to reflect the outside webworld in semantic format.” –Rudi Vansnick, president, Internet Society of Belgium

• “For this question the answer will lie somewhere in between the choices provided. It is clear that the volume of information on the Internet in 2010 is overwhelming and those who can find ways of extracting intelligence from this in a scalable way will have an advantage. In the next 10 years we will be thousands of startups who will invent pieces of the puzzle in making sense of the depth and breath of content. The semantic web will be a piece of this, but by no means the single answer.” –Tom Golway, global technology director at Thomson Reuters and former CTO at ReadyForTheNet; http://www.linkedin.com/in/readyforthenet

• “There's currently little or no incentive to create the semantic web, from the perspective of the people who actually have to do the work. As such, it will fail to thrive.” –Cameron Price, CTO for Mint Digital

Some made suggestions about what a semantic web should aspire to be.

• “We do not have a true hypertext system and the standards have not addressed some of the key shortcomings. We need two-way linkages so a person can go in either direction for such links. We need collaborative features where a user can choose to authorize the return link being placed in their webpage. We need people to be able to create multidimensional linkages among items and produce them new products of creative writing or new nonlinear documents. We need the partial opening of copyright restrictions to allow people to take fragments from anywhere to create these new types of information collections. Some of this is available through some sharing systems but they are often divided by the type of information like pictures, video, etc. There is still too much fragmentation and currently social networks try to force a person to do everything through a given system and not allow a user to direct things to any integration capability with all their information behavior."–Murray Turoff, professor of computer and information sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/murray-turoff/6/697/163

• “Common languages, filing systems, and methods (scientific method) define the intellectual worlds in which we live. This is merely an extension. However, on the downside, they also may circumscribe thought as order replaces chaos. The trick is not to lose the chaos of the past decades with non-flexible associations.” –Tom Wolzien, chairman of Wolzien LLC Media & Communications Strategy and formerly senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

• “The semantic web is the end game of the Internet we use today which is but a stepping stone to something more useful. It completes the usefulness of having developed a multitude of disparate information sources that can be linked programmatically to provide collective intelligence.” –Jeff Walpole, CEO, Phase2 Technology, a web application development firm

• “The Internet was created to connect computers (and then documents, etc) in the case of a meltdown on one node; it was not created for average users. We don't really care about sites or remembering yet another place, in fact we would much prefer content to come to us as part of the 'Destination-Free Web.’ As our interests and needs shifts we would prefer something to self-organize content that matches our mood. In a simple case – search should fragment into Information Search, Social Search, and Commercial Search.” –Anthony Power, vice president of interactive and analytic solutions at Studeo and author of “What’s Still Missing from Web 2.0”; http://www.studeo.com/content/anthony-power

• “Taxonomy is destiny on the web. By 2020 we will all better understand tagging and searching and will leverage the semantic web to our advantage. The continuous gaming of the semantic system will continue but as publishers and merchants seek more advantage, the public will benefit from incremental specificity in search and in quick access to the information sought.” –Daniel Flamberg, blogger at iMedia Connections and senior vice president of interactive marketing at Juice Pharma Advertising; http://www.plaxo.com/directory/profile/90196792005/fbcfdefa/Daniel/Flamberg


Following is a larger sampling of the responses from respondents who chose to take credit for their remarks in the survey; some are the longer versions of expert responses that were already mentioned above. Only about half of respondents chose to elaborate on the question.

“I believe a semantic Web will come, but 2020 is too early for it to have any significant effect. I don't see how we could deploy the semantic Web in the large without significant behavioural changes, and it takes a decade or two for significant behavioural changes to take place. (Think of how long it took for e-mail to become widespread.) This is a very long process – a GOOD concept, but may be hard to generate adoption.” –Pekka Nikander, Ericsson visiting senior research scientist, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, chief scientist, Ericsson Research Nomadiclab; http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/pekka-nikander/0/43/b98

“Semantic Web is a lost cause. Berners-Lee looked at the landscape, picked out certain features, bundled them together and called it semantic Web. But, unfortunately, to 99% of the population, the semantics of this term, i.e. the meaning of it, is a total mystery. As a result, nobody is demanding it, and it will not happen. However, some of the features that were bundled under this umbrella, will become more common, in certain contexts. Semantic Web tried to boil the ocean, and failed, as one would expect.” –Michael Dillon, network consultant at BT and a career professional in IP networking since 1992, member of BT’s IP Number Policy Advisory Forum; http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/michael-dillon/4/663/4B

“Within the next 10 years, the semantic Web will take us from the age of information to the age of knowledge. Simple tools and services will allow individuals, corporations and governments to quickly glean meaning from the vast amounts of data they have compiled. This move from a ‘World Wide Web’ to a ‘world wide database’ will allow for hidden relationships and connections to quickly surface, driving both innovation and (unfortunately) exploitation. The impact of the semantic Web will be substantial. It will help create new industries, influence campaign strategies and lead to ground-breaking discoveries in both science and medicine.” –Bryan Trogdon, president of First Semantic, http://www.ted.com/profiles/view/id/63628

“It may not be implemented fully as envisioned, but the value of a semantic Web will become transparent. Early successes will demonstrate its value leading others to experiment with semantic technology.” –Robert Cannon, senior counsel for Internet law at the US Federal Communications Commission; http://www.cybertelecom.org/cannon.htm

“The adoption curve for semantic Web will be longer than we'd (or I'd) like. This is a technology that needs a critical mass in order to fully realize its potential. I don't know that we will get there. The concept alone is hard for people to understand and hard for companies to adopt. Add to the current complexity of the technology, and I think we'll see giant leaps forward by 2020, but it will not be commonplace or an ‘invisible’ technology.” –Allison Anderson, manager of learning innovations and technology at Intel Corporation; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/allison-anderson/0/b74/a65

“In some ways, semantic Web has the ideals of Lisp or artificial intelligence in the ’80s – it seems attractive on the surface but the technology still has a long way to go. However, we will continue to evolve towards software that enables easier access to real information, improved software reasoning skills, and a continuation of the ‘do what I mean’ philosophy for human-computer interaction.” –Gerrit Huizenga, solutions architect for the Linux Foundation and IBM; http://www.linkedin.com/in/huizenga

“The key problem with the semantic Web is the problem of false data and trust. I think it is a great idea in theory, and many of these principles of the semantic Web will be more deeply integrated into the services we use, but an automated Web-for-machines that automatically make better decisions for us because of the data they export is a pipe dream.” –David Sifry, founder of Technorati and CEO of Offbeat Guides; http://www.sifry.com/alerts/about/

“We are not librarians. Real data is much too messy for the Semantic Web to work.” –Charlie Breindahl, webmaster and external lecturer for the Danish Centre for Design Research; http://dk.linkedin.com/in/6alax1an

“Great strides will have been made towards a semantic Web. If only because some very smart people still have a hard time getting a good answer to a simple question. Machine–man interaction is such that the meanings of information for knowledge exchange will be an ongoing challenge not addressed in this time period.” –David Jensen, self-described as an “aging hippie generalist”

“The availability of new technologies occurs long before they can be rolled out and implemented on a large scale. I do not see any indication that we are any more ready for a new Internet than we are ready to take necessary steps to deal with climate change.” –Benjamin Mordechai Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, consultant for General Motors; http://home.earthlink.net/~bbenbaruch/

“The semantic Web is like artificial intelligence. It's always just around the corner in theory, and disappointing in practice.” –Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner; http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/

“Imagine the ability to access the Internet by asking simple questions such as ‘best flight to London’ or ‘best treatment for heart disease for 60–year–olds’ and then have the semantic Web give you certifiably correct answers from reliable sources that are timely. This is what will soon be possible using the semantic Web and the GGG (Giant Global Graph) of interconnected tuples of global knowledge (subject, predicate, object). We already have the CIA Fact Book, Wikipedia, FOAF and other knowledge sources accessible via the Giant Global Graph. This will certainly get deepened by 2020. Internet users will be able to ask questions without necessarily having to sort through results. Search results themselves will be much more relevant, timely and correctly categorized. Much time will be saved and the overall quality of user experience in terms of trust and utility will be significantly beyond what we have today.” –William Luciw, managing director at Viewpoint West Partners and director at Sezmi Inc., and formerly senior director of products and stand–up philosopher at several other Silicon Valley companies; http://www.linkedin.com/in/williamluciw

“The establishment of the Web Science Trust is a key aspect of what is going on here. The Web is coming of age, and the need for a new science is well understood. Tim [Berners-Lee] is driving this. It is a logical and evolutionary step that is being taken today, and builds upon the work he's driven as well as catalysed in the Semantic Web and in Linked Data." –JP Rangaswami, chief scientist, British Telecommunications; http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jprangaswami

“Many will not bother to code their Web pages the way the semantic Web proponents would like us to. Some sites may do this; others won't bother. The Internet will still be a wild west with a wide variety of content and quality and searchability.” –Peter Timusk, webmaster and Internet researcher, statistical products manager at Statistics Canada; http://ca.linkedin.com/in/petertimusk

“Very much hope so, happy to be counted as one of the allies and working towards Tim's vision.” –Jose M. Alonso, CTIC Foundation and the e-government lead for the World Wide Web Consortium, http://www.w3.org/People/Josema/

“It may be possible as the result of high competition between search engines. Now Google has Google browser and may also have ability to develop HTTP Web server. Of course, many breakthroughs such as perception of user's real intention may be needed.” –Toshiyuki Sashihara, engineer and innovator for NEC Corporation

“The semantic Web is the end game of the Internet we use today which is but a stepping stone to something more useful. It completes the usefulness of having developed a multitude of disparate information sources that can be linked programmatically to provide collective intelligence.” –Jeff Walpole, Phase2 Technology, a Web application development firm

“I have my doubts about how far it will evolve. I hope I am wrong and it has a major impact in making the New more intelligent.” –Jerry Berman, founder and chair of the board of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet public policy organization; president of the Internet Education Foundation http://www.cdt.org/personnel/jerry-berman

“Yes, but we won't call it that... and, as in the second option, no one will notice.” –Esther Dyson, founder and CEO of EDventure, investor and serial board member, journalist and commentator on emerging digital technology; http://www.edventure.com/new-bio.html

“Machines will undoubtedly speak to machines in meaningful and productive ways.” –Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, http://www.fosi.org/cms/index.php/fosistaff/45-stephenbalkam.html

“As organizations and news sites put more and more information online, they're learning the value of organizing and cross–linking information. I think the Semantic Web is taking off in a small way on site after site: a better breakdown of terms on one medical site, a taxonomy on a Drupal-powered blog, etc. But Berners-Lee had a much grander vision of the Semantic Web than better information retrieval on individual sites. He's gunning for content providers and Web designers the world around to pull together and provide easy navigation from one site to another despite wide differences in their contributors, topics, styles, and viewpoints. This may happen someday, just as artificial intelligence is looking more feasible than it was 10 years ago, but the chasm between the present and the future is enormous. To make the big vision work, we'll all have to use the same (or overlapping) ontologies, with standards for extending and varying the ontologies. We'll need to disambiguate things like ‘webbed’ feet from the World Wide ‘Web.’ I'm sure tools to help us do this will get smarter, but they need to get a whole lot smarter. Even with tools and protocols in place, it will be hard to get billions of Web sites to join the project. Here the cloud may be of help. If Google can perform the statistical analysis and create the relevant links, I don't have to do it on my own site. But I bet results would be much better if I had input.” –Andy Oram, editor and blogger, O’Reilly Media; http://radar.oreilly.com/andyo/

“When I think of the Semantic Web I think of ‘intelligent applications.’ These could be as simple as smarter Web browsers and e-mail clients that can understand natural language instructions and complete more complex tasks like automatically booking flights for us, e-mailing friends and marking our calendars. It could also be systems that can process data from multiple linked sources and arrive at something new. Like a corporate system that evaluates the areas of expertise of its employees and recommends optimal project teams. Or a knowledge-management system that can tell you whether a particular idea you just thought of is already being worked on by someone else. The problem with the Web today is that it’s mostly designed for people to understand. But the applications we use to make life easier all have a hard time making sense of information. The Semantic Web changes that.” –Chris Marriott, Acxiom Corporation and digital marketing advisor for the Association of National Advertisers

“The semantic Web is going to pretty fleshed out by 2020, as most data will be surrounded by rich frames of metadata that help machines make sense of it. It will be stupid to build new databases that don’t expose this metadata and it will be easier and more lucrative to create metadata layers for legacy data.” –Anthony Townsend, director of technology development, Institute for the Future; http://www.iftf.org/user/20

“I think that this future will be co-opted by profit-hungry corporations and of minimal value to most users.” –Robert Curry, artist and technophile with Robert Curry Consulting

“There's currently little or no incentive to create the semantic Web, from the perspective of the people who actually have to do the work. As such, it will fail to thrive.” –Cameron Price, CTO for Mint Digital

“For this question the answer will lie somewhere in between the choices provided. It is clear that the volume of information on the Internet in 2010 is overwhelming and those who can find ways of extracting intelligence from this in a scalable way will have an advantage. In the next 10 years we will be thousands of startups who will invent pieces of the puzzle in making sense of the depth and breath of content. The semantic Web will be a piece of this, but by no means the single answer.” –Tom Golway, global technology director at Thomson Reuters and former CTO at ReadyForTheNet; http://www.linkedin.com/in/readyforthenet

“Semantic Web will be here but norms will be changing too quickly for the semantic Web to catch up. In fact, the goal of many users will be to fool the semantic Web.” –R. Ray Wang, partner in The Altimeter Group, blogger on enterprise strategy; http://www.altimetergroup.com/about/r-ray-wang-partner

“There are far too many challenges for the semantic Web to make a significant difference in the average users experience – BUT there will be leaders that make good use of the tools that can help to create sites where semantic programming and tools can be implemented. The Internet is vast, and I think that predictability/vagueness are major issues to overcome in this area.” –Stephan Adelson, president of Adelson Consulting Services and founder of Internet Interventions, a company that promotes health and patient support; http://www.linkedin.com/in/sadelson

“The semantic Web will have taken hold, but it will remain a specialist and complex section of Web development work. The average user may well not perceive much impact on their daily lives, as the impact will be broad but shallow, affecting millions of people in a very small way, adding that little extra benefit in terms of user experience to their daily Web work. I do think however that there will be specific business benefits that have yet to be acknowledged, specifically in internal (i.e. private) business intelligence. The ability of the semantic Web to not only reveal complex data about a businesses internal machinations, but also to then visualise and combine this data into meaningful graphs that can be used for strategic decisions may well be the killer app that linked data is looking for.” –Rich Osborne, Web manager and Web innovation officer, University of Exeter; http://education.exeter.ac.uk/staff_details.php?user=rmosborn

“I interpret the semantic Web as optimized design principles, taking root today. And some principles, in my opinion, do not jive well with average human behavior – either from the perspective of developers or users. It will take a long time to penetrate Web development norms, and those principles that do make it through probably will not ‘reach’ the average user until some time past 2020. It will be under–recognized by the average person, fully understood only by IT and Web developer communities.” –Paul DiPerna, research director and editor at the Foundation for Educational Choice; http://www.edchoice.org/about/ShowBiography.do?id=30&staffType=management

“As I originally wrote in The Futurist magazine, AI watchers predict that natural-language search, which represents a component of semantic search, will replace what some call ‘keywordese’ in five years. Once search evolves from an awkward word hunt – guessing at the key words that might be in the document you’re looking for – to a ‘conversation’ with an AI entity, the next logical step is vocal conversation with your computer. Ask a question and get an answer. No reading necessary. That is the ultimate incarnation of the Semantic Web and it will likely exist well before 2020 and will have a significant impact on culture. Barney Pell, whose company Powerset was also working on a conversational-search interface before it was acquired by Microsoft, dismissed the notion that a computerized entity could effectively fill the role of text, but he does acknowledge that breakthroughs of all sorts are possible. ‘The problem with storing raw sounds is that it’s a sequential access medium; you have to listen to it. You can’t do other things in parallel,’ said Pell during our 2007 discussion. ‘But if you have a breakthrough where auditory or visual information could connect to a human brain in a way that bypasses the processes of decoding the written text, where you can go as fast and slow as you want and have all the properties that textual written media supports, then I could believe that text could be replaced.’ The likelihood of that scenario depends on whom you ask, but if technological progress in computation is any indication, we are safe in assuming that an artificial intelligence entity will eventually emerge that allows individuals to process information as quickly or as slowly as reading written language.” –Patrick Tucker, senior editor, The Futurist magazine; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/patrick-tucker/5/574/B86

“Tim’s World Wide Web was a very simple and usable idea that relied on very simple and usable new standards (e.g. HTML and HTTP), which were big reason why the Web succeeded. The semantic Web is a very complex idea, and one that requires a lot of things to go right before it works. Or so it seems. Tim Berners-Lee introduced the semantic Web Roadmap (http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Semantic.html) in September 1998. Since then more than eleven years have passed. Some semantic Web technologies have taken root: RDFa, for example, and microformats. But the concept itself has energized a relatively small number of people, and there is no “killer” tech or use yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Invention is the mother of necessity. The semantic Web will take off when somebody invents something we all find we need. Maybe that something will be built out of some combination of code and protocols already laying around — either within the existing semantic Web portfolio, or from some parallel effort such as XDI. Or maybe it will come out of the blue. By whatever means, the ideals of the semantic Web — a Web based on meaning (semantics) rather than syntax (the Web’s current model) — will still drive development. And we’ll be a decade farther along in 2020 than we are in 2010.” –Doc Searls, fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University and Harvard Law School, fellow at Center for Information Technology and Society, University of California-Santa Barbara; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/doc-searls/0/0/a54

“I don't think it will be a one–time ‘impact,’ it will be a ‘process.’ It will be happening continuously, it will not have ‘happened.’” –Ginger Paque, co-director of Internet Governance Caucus and leader in Diplo Foundation Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme; http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig/Community/display.asp?Topic=GingerPague

“The 2020 headlines will proclaim (for the 17th year in a row) that ‘next’ year will be the year that semantic Web takes off (of course, that name will be in disrepute, as will its several replacements such as berner–topia and lee–eden. The false icon of semantic Webbing of 2021 will be known as bernersleesation).”–Steve Sawyer, associate professor, college of information sciences and technology, Penn State University; http://ist.psu.edu/ist/directory/faculty/?EmployeeID=3

“I'm saying yes to this one more because I wish it and hope for it than that I know or feel it to be the clear shape of things to come. I think we're still at the beginning of the semantic Web. I hope that by 2020 it's at least a healthy toddler.” –Joshua Freeman, director of interactive services, Columbia University Information Technology; http://www.linkedin.com/in/jfreeman

“Semantic analysis is very difficult. Such problems tend to take many decades to really solve well.” –William Webb, head of research and development, Ofcom; http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/william-webb/b/640/65

“The truth is that the semantic Web is a *hard* problem, and won't be solved until/unless we have ‘sentient’ or ‘conscious’ Turing-capable computers – which I don't expect by 2020. On the other hand, a combination of better ontologies and just greater computing capacity will allow more information to be pre-computed and searchable, so ‘search’ and what I call ‘online computer-assisted reasoning,’ like Wolfram Alpha, will be much more powerful. Mostly, however, people won't really notice, except to complain when a search gives them something other than what they wanted.” –Charlie Martin, correspondent and science and technology editor, Pajamas Media, technical writer, PointSource Communications, correspondent, Edgelings.com; http://www.linkedin.com/in/chasrmartin

“I have been a professional Webmaster for over 15 years, and this survey question is the first I have ever heard of the ‘semantic Web.’ If I could get along without it for all these years, I am guessing most folks will continue to fail to notice it for the next decade at least.” –John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, former director of cyberstrategy and other projects for the Federation of American Scientists; http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/staff/pike.htm

“By 2020, the promoters of the semantic Web will change their definitions and declare victory.” –Alex Halavais, vice president of the Association of Internet Researchers; professor and social informatics researcher, Quinnipiac University; explores the ways in which social computing influences society, author of “Search Engine Society”; http://alex.halavais.net/bio

“I am not sure the semantic Web will be it but I do think we will more and more organize information and make it easier to find than it is today online. Semantic Web approaches would be one way. So could a ‘Dewey Decimal’ system for the Web (unlikely). But the growing use of apps is really a new form of search and a new way to organize information. People are now using apps on mobile devices more than I suspect they use search.” –Link Hoewing, assistant vice president for Internet and technology issues at Verizon; http://policyblog.verizon.com/User/linkhoewing9.aspx

“The semantic Web is an overhyped set of standards for linking data. Sir Tim's brilliant idea with the Web was to create a single simple protocol for accessing a number of disparate kinds of data. The semantic Web is not such a simple idea, but is instead a series of high marginal cost, frequently contestable ontologies and meta text mark–up. Its not bad, but nor is it simple. By contrast, the genius of Friendster was to call the links that people had online as 'friends.’ No, they may not be real friends, but it is a workable metaphor. I parallel this innovation to the innovation of creating ‘http’: simple, uniform and emergent. So now compare the present success of social network sites based on the friend model (Facebook, MySpace, Orkut) to the Friend–of–a–Friend (FOAF) ontology. The latter is perhaps the most successful semantic Web technology. It is has little over a million users. Half a billion people are on social network sites. The semantic Web will be handy for increased categorization of data, but it will not represent a quantum leap forward in intelligibility for the end user. Collaborative filtering and machine learning style categorization of the emergent networks based on the simple friend model will make a difference, as will future advances in machine learning in general.” –Bernie Hogan, research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; http://people.oii.ox.ac.uk/hogan/

“Although the semantic Web may not play out precisely as envisioned, it is already having an effect and will continue to do so. Semantic applications already manage e-mail contacts (Xobni), travel plans (TripIt), and searching and finding (TrueKnowledge, Wolfram|Alpha, and many others). The power of the semantic Web is that it is using information that is already embedded in our systems to make and display connections that would take much longer to surface one by one. For instance, TripIt uses semantic approaches to interpret travel information; by forwarding a collection of confirmation emails from a variety of sources to a single automated address, I end up with an easy-to-read, integrated itinerary of all my trips, a task that used to require me to find, print out, staple, and keep track of numerous pieces of information. The semantic Web makes this possible, and as more semantic applications are developed and released, it will become easier to keep track of and use the multitude of information that each of us deals with on a daily basis. That said, I don't think it will be obvious to most people that the semantic Web is what makes this possible – the technology will be transparent.” –Rachel S. Smith, vice president, NMC Services, New Media Consortium; http://www.linkedin.com/in/ninmah

“Developments continue all the time in finding ways to associate online content and retrieve patterns from them. Meaning will be increasingly extractable.” –Ron Rice, Ph.D, co-director of the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media, University of California-Santa Barbara, divisional officer, International Communication Association and Academy of management; http://www.comm.ucsb.edu/faculty/rrice/bio.htm

“[The semantic Web will not be as fully effective as desired], I wish this were not so, but I think it is.” –Mícheál Ó Foghlú, executive director for research at Telecommunications Software & Systems Group for Waterford Institute of Technology; http://www.ofoghlu.net/mofoghlu/

“Having seen the (very!) limited ‘successes’ of artificial intelligence (with few limited exceptions, e.g. face recognition, etc.) since it was first proposed perhaps half a century ago (or more if you count sci-fi proposals), I'm quite cynical about how much can be done along the lines of automatically extracting MEANING from information.” –Jim Warren, founder and chair of the first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference and longtime technology and society activist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Warren

“Once people start understanding the need of semantic Web, more and more websites will be based on semantic concepts, which will lead Google to reflect the outside Webworld in semantic format.” Rudi Vansnick, president and CEO, Internet Society, Belgium, board member, EURALO; http://be.linkedin.com/in/rudivansnick

“Within restricted communities or small families of websites, ontologies are possible without strangling the development of a community, but across the entire Web? No way. Never.” –Chris DiBona, open source and public sector engineering manager at Google; http://sites.google.com/a/dibona.com/dibona-wiki/Home/Biographies-and-Photos

“The semantic Web might prove useful in certain tightly controlled domains, but true artificial intelligence remains elusive.” –Dean Thrasher, founder, Infovark; http://www.linkedin.com/in/deanthrasher

“I don't perceive that we have a long way to go before ‘semantic links’ become the norm. We don't need systems that are fully intelligent; even dumb systems can appear to do semantic linkages such as matching ‘crimson’ to ‘red.’ Look at the music websites, such as Pandora, that are already moving in these directions.” –Karl Auerbach, chief technical officer at InterWorking Labs, Inc.; http://www.linkedin.com/in/karlauerbach

“This is the latest incarnation of a long line of futile AI endeavors that have not succeeded and wouldn't do much of what is hoped for them even if they did reach fruition. This one I would not expect to see by 2030 either.” –Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work at Microsoft Research; http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/jgrudin/

“I really can't see the point of the semantic Web. Whenever it's been presented to me, it's seemed (a) boring, and (b) over-engineered. Nobody cares.” –Dean Bubley, founder, Disruptive Analysis, an independent technology analysis and consulting firm; http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com/

“Alas, the semantic Web is an idea that owes more to the desires of computing scientists and information theorists for a world of perfected knowledge and processed reason than to reality. The semantic Web is like the Encyclopaedia of the Modern project: an ideal whose existence enables us to make progress but that can never be achieved because it fails to account for the cultural malleability of knowledge, the political economy of information, and – ultimately – the agency of humans, with their machines, in subverting the ideals of pure reason to the partial ends of personal gain.” –Matthew Allen, director of the department of Internet Studies at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University of Technology, and critic of social uses and cultural meanings of the Internet; http://www.netcrit.net/

“The semantic Web can be regarded more as a proof of concept than as a new paradigm for the Web. By 2020 it will have been re-envisioned and implemented in a more nuanced fashion for specific applications only.” –Jeremy Malcolm, project coordinator, Consumers International, and co-director of the Internet Governance Caucus; http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremymalcolm

“I'm a skeptic that we can truly automate processes around semantic information to make a real difference. It'll help, but won't be transformative. It’s a natural progression.” –Jerry Michalski, founder, Relationship Economy Expedition, founder and president, Sociate; http://www.sociate.com/

“No, unfortunately, the semantic Web will not succeed as TBL anticipated. The Internet will likely continue to be based just on hyperlinking rather than semantically related.” –Homero Gil de Zuniga, Internet researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, US

“The semantic Web is one of those technologies that seem to make a lot of sense but will ultimately fail in the marketplace. As we have seen from Google, gaming of indexing is big business and this has not been addressed at all by the semantic Web community.” –Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer at CANARIE Inc. and member of the Internet Society board of trustees

“I am saying no, only because my impression of the pace of progression towards the Semantic Web over the last 10 years does not lead me to believe we will have “made it” in the next 10. We'll be on the way, though.” –Adrian Schofield, manager, applied research unit, Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, president, Computer Society South Africa; http://za.linkedin.com/in/adrianschofield

“By 2020, efficient ways to exchange structured data will definitely be in place and there will be more structure to all sorts of content, ranging from end-user-generated content to online government data. Tim's vision of the semantic Web, however, means that pretty much everybody will have to upgrade their databases, content management systems and such to something that supports RDF and other W3C standards. Looking at the number of legacy systems that are in place today, *especially* in government, banking, transportation and other places that are highly important to this vision, I remain skeptical that this will happen within 10 years. Judging from what we've seen happen in the world of Web services, where REST-ful interfaces are killing off heavier approaches such as XML–RPC and SOAP, we'll probably see a bottom-up approach where a few, simpler methods will fulfill a smaller set of the semWeb vision.” –Hjalmar Gislason, founder and CEO of DataMarket; former director of business development at Iceland Telecom; http://is.linkedin.com/in/hjalli

“Much depends on the definition. But a lift from the mechanical techniques acting on physical expressions and limited grammars employed by Google, etc., into a semantic level of content analysis will only take place within very limited frameworks, and even so limited, they will be extremely sensitive to the semantic variations and rule changes developing over time as it is clearly manifested in ordinary language as well as in the scholarly and scientific vocabularies.” –Niels Ole Finnemann, professor and director of the Center for Internet Research, Aarhus University, Denmark; http://person.au.dk/en/finnemann@imv

“The over–stated promises of AI in the last century demonstrate the difficulty of semantics. Machine-learning techniques have improved dramatically so there will be powerful tools for people to infer semantics, however in 2020 most people will continue to work with unstructured and semi-structured data.”–Gary Marchionini, professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US; http://www.ils.unc.edu/~march/

“While I do believe that many of the elements the semantic Web proposes for defining the meaning of information on the world wide Web will have come to fruition and be widely used, I can't see the Web developing fully in this way by 2020.” –Neville Hobson, head of social media in Europe for WCG Group and principal of NevilleHobson.com; http://www.nevillehobson.com/

“The semantic Web could give us the power of Asimov's Robots. If so world productivity goes up, and economic prosperity improves–or does it. Whether good or bad depends a lot on access, not just electronic, but intellectual. Will everyone have the education to best use such a world, or does the computer just get smarter so that humans can get dumber?” –Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics, Adams State College, designer and consultant for using computers and telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st century learning communities; http://www.edlyell.com/About.html

“Already the semantic Web folks have backed off on their stated expectations and are more interested in data portability and interoperability. Frankly this is not only a realistic move but a smart one. The best place for semantics is in data which structure and metadata and description are essential.” –Paul Jones, founder and director of ibibilo.org, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; http://www.ibiblio.org/pjones/

“Some form of next-generation meta-Web is inevitable, but it will probably take directions not envisioned by Berners-Lee or his cohorts. Evolution tends to be characterized by chaos, which trait makes it well nigh impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. Future technology has never really been very deterministic.” –Robert G. Ferrell, information systems security officer for the National Business Center of the U.S. Department of the Interior; http://www.theplinth.org/

“The semantic Web will have had an effect, but it will not be the semantic Web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, but a much more informal one, where meaning will be obtained more out of data mining and other statistical techniques. Also, it will have clearly made a difference to the average Internet users, but most of them will not notice.” –César Córcoles, professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; http://obm.corcoles.net/

“In 2020 we will have a semantic Web, but it will be a bootstrapped one, that adapts to the immense amount of conversation flowing back and forth through the Web." —Fred Stutzman, Ph.D candidate, researcher and teaching fellow, School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill; http://fredstutzman.com/index.html

“It's been a decade and everyone still says ‘semantic what?’ Do we really need another decade to figure this out?” Stuart Schechter, Microsoft Research; http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/stus/

“The Semantic Web is a liquid concept that has changed as technology – and socioeconomic – interests have evolved along time. In a broad sense, the semantic Web is about machines understanding humans – their behaviour, their actions, their knowledge outcomes – without these having to tell or command them. In this broad sense, the semantic Web is likely to leap forward in the coming years. Augmented reality will begin to seriously bridge the offline and the online worlds or, better said, to bridge analogue and digital worlds. This bridge will accelerate the already vertiginous path towards pouring immense amounts of data in digital format, which will definitely help search engines and all computing tasks in general in performing semantic activities. Of course, the evolution of hardware will also contribute in this, and we are likely to see an understandable ‘step back’ in software design: it might become worth it to replace clever algorithms with brute force ones, where quantitative approaches (more data with more computing power) might be better than qualitative ones (related with efficiency based on metadata attached to data). In any case, despite the state of evolution of the semantic Web, a point of no return will by then have been reached in the way we understand the dichotomy of analogue and digital, and having entered a new paradigm where offline vs. online will no more make much sense.” Ismael Peña-López, lecturer, School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia, researcher, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute; http://es.linkedin.com/in/ictlogist

“The semantic Web is just now being applied to specialized fields like medicine, music, geography... Google opens a big front door to the electronic library, but SWs are the card catalogs of the specialized stacks.” –Don McLagan, board of directors member for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, consultant to digital entrepreneurs, retired CEO of Compete Inc.; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/don-mclagan/0/26/237

“I understand Berners-Lee's concept of the semantic Web as being more structured than the various collections of folksonomies and APIs that we have today, and I don't foresee us progressing far in that direction in the coming 10 years. A more structured Web can be enabled by enhancements to HTML, for example, but getting people to adopt those enhancements and use them consistently and regularly is another matter. There are also the issues of human language to be considered; linkages across languages will remain problematic. Even if a semantic Web emerges for the English-language Web, what about everyone else?” –Mindy McAdams, Knight Chair in journalism, University of Florida, author, “Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages,” journalist, http://mindymcadams.com/index.htm

“The problems facing the successful arrival of a semantic Web are not simply technological, but lie in significant part in the human element itself. The nature of human-produced content makes it extremely difficult to categorise without loss of accuracy or reliability. In libraries there are certain requirements, and agreed formats, and even then it is necessary to blur lines and endure mistakes. It will take more than ten or eleven years for the human-produced content of the Internet to become compatible with the idea of a semantic Web. In considering semantic Web, it is important to note that the sort of Internet envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee is quite different from the one we seem to be developing.” –Francis J.L. Osborn, philosopher, University of Wales-Lampeter

“Structured metadata is hard. It would be possible to do what Sir Tim envisions today, but it requires a great deal of effort by content creators. It's unlikely to happen for most content unless tools are built to make it automatic and transparent. Systems like OpenCalais are promising, but many generations away from being truly effective. This isn't something I expect to see by 2020.” –Ethan Zuckerman, research fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Global Voices; http://ethanzuckerman.com

“I am torn on this one, mostly because it is a technology that will likely happen and one that I'm not sure will be all that positive. I think people will like it (if I understand it properly) because they will be fed information that is in their ‘line of sight.’ However, that isn't what I envision as the best power of the Internet. I am fairly cautious of computers serving us what they perceive they want us to know. The Internet has many more capabilities, as did Encyclopedias before it. If someone had told me that the main data I wanted from an encyclopedia was X, would I have gone there and remained ignorant of Y?” –Laurel Butman, management analyst, city of Portland, Oregon, US

“Semantic Web technology appears always to be doomed to be slightly ahead of its time. I think it will be leveraged here and there, but not a mainstream technology with perceptible effects on society.” –Obie Fernandez, founder and CEO of Hashrocket, blogger and editor and author of a series of books for Addison-Wesley on Ruby and Rails; http://www.obiefernandez.com/

“There will be more and better meta-information, but it will continue to be opportunistic, siloed, and ad hoc in 2020." –Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, Internet law professor at the University of Michigan, former special assistant in the Obama administration for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy; http://scrawford.net/blog/about/

“The semantic Web depends on cooperation by commercial vendors, and what we have seen most often is not cooperation but rather selfish and non-sharing behaviour. Look at Apple, for example, which has its own proprietary stack for the iPhone. Or Facebook, which consumes data, but only in very rare cases shares it. Where the semantic Web will be most effective will be in informal, non–commercial and underground activities – but in this environment the rigid formality that characterizes the semantic Web cannot be enforced. Instead, we will get a roughly interoperative polyglot, as characterized, for example, by RSS. From time to time these will surface and become widespread, breaking the commercial companies' proprietary monopoly. But it will be an ongoing struggle, and semantic Web applications will struggle to become mainstream.” –Stephen Downes, senior research officer, National Research Council of Canada, and specialist in online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy; http://www.downes.ca/me/index.htm

“I firmly believe that the Web of 2020 will be substantially more semantic than it is today – but it won't be the semantic Web in the orthodox definition promoted by Berners-Lee et al. The trajectory of recent years (especially with the transition to 'Web 2.0') has been one of increased metadata generation, and those data can be harnessed as semantic information, of course – but they will continue to conform to their own, continually emerging and changing schemata rather than to a uniform semantic description language as the Semantic Web initiative postulates it. This need not make the semantic information available on the Web any less useful or effective, however, as the tools for extracting and processing such non–standard metadata from the folksonomic jumble that is the Web have also become more and more powerful – but it is a user-generated, semantic Web from below rather than a well–ordered, well-structured Semantic Web from above. It's the triumph of a Google-style 'brute processing power' approach to making sense of the Web over a Yahoo-style 'orderly ontologies' approach, all over again.” –Axel Bruns, associate professor, Media & Communication, Queensland University of Technology and general editor of Media and Culture journal; http://au.linkedin.com/in/snurb

“It will take far longer for what are already becoming quite entrenched Internet use habits to adapt to the Semantic Web, and by 2020 we may have other, competing tools and languages, some of which may be automated.” –Steve Jones, professor of communication and associate dean of liberal arts and sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago, and co-founder of the Association of Internet Researchers; http://stevejones.me/

“By 2020, it's inevitable that the Web will be transformed by intelligent agents and machines talking much more readily and effectively to other machines. Too many people at both ends of the pipe stand to benefit for this not to happen. The Web, barely two decades old, has been transformed by the development of technologies like XML and Javascript. Web developers have powerful incentives to keep adding functionality and ease-of-use to browsers. This is partly a matter of the sheer numbers of end–users who have made the Internet part of their daily lives. No less important is the role that has been assumed by the browser as both the primary window on the Internet at large and the interface for many once–distinct functions, like email and FTP. In fact, the Web browser has become so central to the online experience that most people I talk to (including Communication Studies majors) are surprised and confused to learn that the Web and the Internet are not co–extensive. What is not a foregone conclusion, however, is the role that Berners-Lee and his allies will play in this development cycle over the next decade. I think it unlikely that the semantic Web will grow as a single platform entirely within the control of Berners-Lee and the W3C. There's too much money to be made and too great a temptation to work around a universal set of standards, as has been demonstrated in the past by companies like Microsoft. On the other hand, the decline of IE and the increasing popularity of open-source software may make the browser market a healthier one, in which competition provokes innovation and works to the advantage of average Internet users. So many benefits will accrue from intelligent agents, and machines talking more effectively to other machines, that it's hard to imagine the world without them in 2020. Aside from questions about just how much ‘intelligence’ agents and machines will acquire, however, there's a bigger question as to whether all this functionality will come out of the semantic Web as envisioned by Berners-Lee. Certainly average Internet users have come to expect ever–increasing functionality from their browsers. The Web browser is their window on the Internet at large – to the extent that most people I talk to are stunned to learn that the Web and the Internet aren't the same thing. Furthermore, browsers have absorbed many other once free-standing online services, like email and FTP, which have become a seamless part of the browser experience. Millions of Web users and publishers stand to benefit from the grand scheme represented by the semantic Web, and some of its enabling technologies are bound to achieve success. But it faces a number of major obstacles. First, competitive issues. Not everyone subscribes to the vision expounded by Berners-Lee. There's probably a lot of money to be made here, a compelling reason for some developers to create solutions outside the semantic Web framework. Second, technical issues. Natural language is rife with ambiguity, a nasty problem that has plagued machine–assisted translation for decades. It's hard to imagine the semantic Web as an end-game, with humanoid agents able to operate free of human intervention. Third, social issues. The very success of such a radical UI paradigm will pose threats to end–user control and privacy. The more the semantic Web succeeds, the more we should be concerned about what we're forfeiting to our agents and those who create them. This is just the kind of effort mainstream onliners are unwilling or unable to make, even when their money and identities are at stake. In other words, the semantic Web should not be seen as entirely benign. Once out of the lab, it will have to contend with the many frailties, and occasional bad faith, of the creatures it's intended to help.” –David Ellis, director of communication studies at York University, Toronto, and author of the first Canadian book on the roots of the Internet; http://ca.linkedin.com/in/drdavidellis

“There is too much work involved on the part of Website owners for the semantic Web to work. Various efforts to put more meta-data on Web pages have not worked. It's hard to see why the SW should be different.” –Peng Hwa Ang, dean of the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and active leader in the global Internet governance processes of WSIS and IGF; http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/sci/about/profile_AngPengHwa.html

“Esperanto is a nice idea. But we will hopefully learn how to connect information.” –Bob Frankston, computing pioneer, co-founder of Software Arts and co-developer and marketer of VisiCalc, created Lotus Express, ACM Fellow; http://frankston.com/public/Bob_Frankston_Bio.asp

“By 2020 there will be mechanisms for interoperable computer programs that will allow easy and invisible sharing of data across applications that will make the goals of a semantic Web attainable. This will make it easier for all Internet users to seamlesssly operate and combine document, data, calendar, social media, multimedia, and other programs.” –Gary Kreps, professor and chair of the department of communication, George Mason University

“It will achieve this because the human component will have been added. The key is a combination of human and machine intelligence, not one or the other.” –Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and author of “We the Media”; http://cronkite.asu.edu/faculty/gillmorbio.php

“Just as it is impossible to prevent slang, argot, and creoles from forming, so we will continue to demonstrate polymorphous perversity in our expression and knowledge production.” –Sandra Braman, professor in the Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and expert on the macro-level effects of new information technologies; https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/braman/www/html/bio.html

“IF the recording industry taught us anything, it is that competing formats reduce choice rather than enhance it. (Betamax vs. VHS = lower quality VHS format prevailed; mobile phone formats resulted in other countries producing a leapfrog better solution). If the democracy proponents prevail, we may have multiple formats but open sourcing with transparency; if commercial forces dominate, we may still see a market–driven need for cooperation.” Tobey Dichter, CEO at Generations on Line; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tobey-dichter/13/91a/b47

“I see too much fragmented work, too many silos, low research funding levels and conflicting goals but the promise is high.” –Glenn Edens, technology strategy consultant, formerly senior vice president and director of Sun Microsystems Laboratories, chief scientist at HP, president AT&T Strategic Ventures; http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennedens

“I think the semantic Web will be in full swing as behavioral patterns of end users will become more and more prevalent.” –Brad Adgate, senior vice president and research director at Horizon Media; http://www.bradgateblog.com/?page_id=2

“The semantic Web is a direction for technology development, not a ‘thing’ that can be ‘achieved,’ and whether average Internet users notice not a particularly useful question. (For example, average Internet users don't notice much of a difference from ‘XML’ either, even though XML has had significant positive impact in industry.)” –Larry Masinter, principal scientist at Adobe Systems, TAG member at W3C, formerly Internet architecture director at AT&T; http://www.linkedin.com/in/masinter

“We do not have a true hypertext system and the standards have not addressed some of the key shortcomings. We need two-way linkages so a person can go in either direction for such links. We need collaborative features where a user can choose to authorize the return link being placed in their Webpage. We need people to be able to create multidimensional linkages among items and produce them new products of creative writing or new nonlinear documents. We need the partial opening of copyright restrictions to allow people to take fragments from anywhere to create these new types of information collections. Some of this is available through some sharing systems but they are often divided by the type of information like pictures, video, etc. There is still too much fragmentation and currently social networks try to force a person to do everything through a given system and not not allow a user to direct things to any integration capability with all their information behavior.” –Murray Turoff, professor of computer and information sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/murray-turoff/6/697/163

“The semantic Web is built on rather problematic principles, and I think it is more likely that the continued information overload will means that machine processing of data remains crude. Meaning will remain within the abilities of the user to synthesise the information they receive, so I think it will be crucial that new technologies that can re–present large quantities of data (i.e. through visualisation) are developed and whole new industries committed to this will be required in the future.” –David M. Berry, author of "Copy, Rip, Burn: Copyleft!" and a lecturer on sociological and philosophical research into technology; http://www.swan.ac.uk/staff/academic/Arts/berryd/

“The limitation in the spread of all personal technologies is the rate at which people master what they use now, their habits, their infrequent willingness to try new things, and their changing the way they have done it in the past.” –David R. Hughes, EFF Internet Pioneer Award winner and advocate for connected communities; http://www.odessaoffice.com/wireless/Himalayas/Hughes.htm

“Common languages, filing systems, and methods (scientific method) define the intellectual worlds in which we live. This is merely an extension. However, on the downside, they also may circumscribe thought as order replaces chaos. The trick is not to lose the chaos of the past decades with non–flexible associations.” –Tom Wolzien, chairman of Wolzien LLC Media & Communications Strategy and formerly senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

“I really want to believe in the semantic Web having such an impact, but even on this time horizon I am finding it hard to see becoming part of the infrastructure in a way that does not produce too much added complexity. I'd really like to be wrong on this, but to me one way links are not going away.” –Alan Levine, vice president, community and chief technology officer, New Media Consortium; http://www.nmc.org/user/alan

“Generally, I do think that there will be enough advancement and application of semantic Web tech to make online services and information much ‘smarter’ and more relevant than they are today – probably to a noticeable extent. The semantic Web is all about what you can do with information, how you can use it. People do notice when options become broader or more flexible.” –Amy Gahran, contributing writer at eMeter Corporation, senior editor at Oakland Local, co-creator and community manager at Reynolds Journalism Institute; http://www.linkedin.com/in/agahran

“This question would be improved with a short statement on what the semantic Web is. I have answered in the affirmative because I think it will be possible by 2010 for people to build Websites that can be crawled by intelligent software agents that are sent out to do the bidding of their owners e.g. to search for consumer items or holiday packages. If that is the vision of the semantic Web, then it should be achievable by 2010. If Tim Berners-Lee is envisioning that by 2020 the entire Web will be understandable by software agents i.e. Pro–Life organisations will re–write their website so a piece of software can automatically establish that the owners of the site are pro–life, then I think this will not be achieved. Much of social life on the Web will never be understood completely by software agents, although they will assist human researchers in understanding social life on the Web.”–Robert Ackland, research fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University; http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/?id=108

“Meaning is elusive, depending on context and perspective and a range of human intellectual processes that we still only dimly understand. Despite confident predictions, AI and Expert Systems and other attempts to capture meaning through machine ‘intelligence’ have fallen far short of their hype. The semantic Web is only the latest new thing that will disappoint its hopeful champions.” –Mark Edwards, software innovator, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and senior advisor to the dean of Harvard Divinity School; http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/medwards

“The semantic Web is on the left tail of a diffusion curve. Exponential increases in computing power over the next decade will have us looking back to the first decade of the 2000’s as an infantile developmental period of semantic interaction. By 2015 this capability will long since been fully developed beyond its adolescence. By 2020 integrated for most of the prior decade into life and lifestyle.” –Steve Steele, sociology professor and director at the Institute for the Future at Ann Arundel Community College; http://www.aacc.edu/future/askfuturesteele.cfm

“I think very difficult problems related to artificial intelligence underlie the semantic Web vision. We've not made much progress on those problems in decades, and I'm not sure why the next decade would lead to breakthroughs.” –Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education, emerging technologies expert; http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~dedech/

“The semantic Web, to an extent that far surpasses its adherents understanding, relies upon a universalistic ontology. Words are much more fluid, strategic, and context-sensitive. The semantic Web will provide some minor benefits, but it can't realize the enlightenment vision held by its advocates.” –John Monberg, assistant professor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Michigan State University; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-monberg/2/494/b4b

“I may be wrong on this one, but people are busy and lazy, and the applications, like text search, that succeed tend to be ones that require no extra work by those entering data – they are by-products of the work we do for ourselves. We include links in documents because they help us and those using our services, not to help Google better estimate the relevance of the document to a query. It might turn out that a centralized approach, where the mission of organizations like WolframAlpha is to add semantic value, will lead to the ‘Web of data.’” –Larry Press, professor of Computer Information Systems, California State University Dominguez Hills

“Life is messy. So's the Internet.” –Jeff Jarvis, author of “What would Google Do?”, associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program and the new business models for news project at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism; http://www.buzzmachine.com/about-me/

“Semantic Web will grow and it need to grow further in relation with the increasing demand of the Internauts.” –Hakikur Rahman, founder-principal, Institute of Computer Management & Science, chairman, SchoolNet Foundation Bangladesh, founder-chairman, Internet Society Bangladesh Chapter; http://www.hakik.org/main.htm

“The semantic Web concept disregards the fundamental fuzzyness and variability of human communication. It may allow us to cope with the huge quantity of information available in electronic form and may provide some initial order, but the latter won't be any more effective than earlier knowledge organization systems have been. The proliferation of agents coupled with the lack of authority may indeed lead to much less effective results.” –Michel J. Menou, Ph.D, information science, independent consultant in ICT policy, visiting professor and associate researcher, School of Library, Archives and Information Services, University College London; http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/menoum/menoum.php

“If the increasingly mature semantic Web winds up moving in the direction of ‘folksonnomies,’ or user–established indexing of bits of knowledge, then it will mean ‘friendlier’ interfacing of people with information and knowledge on the Web.” –Frederic Michael Litto, retired professor of communication and founder and scientific coordinator, School of the Future, University of São Paulo, president of ABED-Brazilian Association for Distance Education, former consultant for distance education projects for the World Bank and the Commonwealth of Learning; http://www.online-educa.com/profile-48

“All depends on what one means by ‘significant.’ Clearly more than today. Wolfram Alpha is a move in the direction of the semantic Web. Though text searching (pattern matching) will still probably be the dominant search technique by 2020.” –Peter Bishop, associate professor of strategic foresight, coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies, University of Houston, Houston, Texas; http://www.tech.uh.edu/Directory/Bishop/Peter/

“The semantic Web is here. Pay close attention to organizations like Hakia, for example. We'll see change well before 2020.” –Joshua Fouts, leader of Dancing Ink, fostering the emergence of a new global culture through virtual worlds, a digital diplomacy expert, senior fellow at Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Web activist and founding editor of Online Journalism Review; http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuafouts

“The Internet was created to connect computers (and then documents, etc) in the case of a meltdown on one node; it was not created for average users. We don't really care about sites or remembering yet another place, in fact we would much prefer content to come to us as part of the 'Destination-Free Web.’ As our interests and needs shifts we would prefer something to self–organize content that matches our mood. In a simple case – search should fragment into Information Search, Social Search, and Commercial Search.” –Anthony Power, vice president of interactive and analytic solutions at Studeo and author of “What’s Still Missing from Web 2.0”; http://www.studeo.com/content/anthony-power

“The technology to meet the Semantic Web does not exist at this time. It would need a significant technological breakthrough to happen.” –Mark Walter, J-Angel Productions

“The Semantic Web will be here by 2020 but in a modified and evolved form from Berners-Lee vision. As information storage becomes more accessible the ‘semantics’ will be in the applications not in the base Web language. With smarter and smarter AI-based computing, contextual coding will go away and the base software will do the contextual coding and understanding. Thirty years ago we would have said that a machines ability to recognize simple words and signs in varied texts was totally limited with out contextual markers– today glorified toys can analyze your yoga moves and correct the form all from an under $50 US camera linked to gaming device (with how many more times computing power that what it took to get to the moon) – I think that we will see a merge of ‘recognition’ technologies and ‘learning’ software to read a text and extrapolate the meaning and links.” –Cameron Lewis, Arizona Department of Health Services

“Users will drive the Internet's future development, just as they have driven it in the past. Unfortunately, their commitment to its most noble purposes will never be of primary interest to them. The Internet HAS expanded awareness and improved human relations, and it will continue to do so, but never to the extent that Berners-Lee and others have envisioned.” –Al Amersdorfer, president and CEO of Automotive Internet Technologies, a provider of internet marketing solutions for the retail automobile industry

“The semantic Web is a great idea, but will be hard to realize as it requires a great deal of co-ordination and standardization.” –Hal Varian, chief economist of Google and on the faculty at the University of California-Berkeley: http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~hal/

“There is a clear benefit to achieving the semantic Web but this may not be apparent to the average user, which in turn suggests that there may be insufficient financial incentive (i.e. return) to investors to bring it about. Business users might benefit, but systems administrators may prefer to stick with user-allocated metadata as a more easily understood and trusted method of document tagging and description. Document and records management systems need to evolve considerably not just to incorporate the semantic Web but to offer clear advantages to corporate buyers needing to comply with discolosure legislation (Freedom of Information, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc).” –Peter Griffiths, independent information specialist and consultant and former president of the UK Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; http://uk.linkedin.com/in/peterdgriffiths

“The semantic Web still has a long way to go. Meta-tagging still requires a lot of work by a lot of individuals, and it has many problems with accuracy. New methods will be discovered and utilized, driven by universities and start–ups that will benefit from more effective meta-data management.” –Brian Prascak, chief innovation officer, InReach Commerce Inc.

“I see a bigger impact from the 'social Web' vs. the 'semantic Web' due to the level of consumer generated content and random information that is posted. While we will have more ways to create content and read the content and will be more connected than ever before, it will be more social. The average user will continue to look to their friends for recommendations for information – regardless of the form those come in and will, as humans do, trust their friends more than anything else.” –Elaine Young, associate professor, Champlain College; http://www.linkedin.com/in/elainejyoung

“The semantic Web may hold some potential for increasing Web usefulness but also presents the danger of indirectly narrowing the range of responses available – to the extent that software (ultimately, that means software designers) takes on more of the responsibility for navigation, the user is correspondingly deskilled.” –Robert Runte, University of Lethbridge; http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/robert-runte/10/474/8a0

“Taxonomy is destiny on the Web. By 2020 we will all better understand tagging and searching and will leverage the Semantic Web to our advantage. The continuous gaming of the semantic system will continue but as publishers and merchants seek more advantage, the public will benefit from incremental specificity in search and in quick access to the information sought.” –Daniel Flamberg, blogger at iMedia Connections and senior vice president of interactive marketing at Juice Pharma Advertising; http://www.plaxo.com/directory/profile/90196792005/fbcfdefa/Daniel/Flamberg

“I just looked up ‘semantic Web’ on Google, which led to an article on Wikipedia that explained what is meant by that term., complete with links to related and more in-depth ideas on the topic. Is that not a perfect example of how the Internet has achieved Tim Berners-Lee’s vision?” –Christine Hamilton–Pennell, president of Growing Local Economies Inc.; http://www.linkedin.com/in/chamiltonpennell

“As a specialist in mapping semantic and social networks mined from the Web and developing from these improved optimal communication messages, I envision this first scenario not in being dominant in the next 10 years but in approximately 30 years. Research trends tend to have 10-, 20-, and 30-year cycles and then a move upward to begin another series of cycles at a higher level of sophistication. We have already reached the end of the first 30 year cycle given that semantic network analysis of Web as we knew it in the ’70s–’80s was when we began semantic network analysis of material available on Computer Bulletin Board Systems (CBBS), Arpanet, Bitnet, etc. We need another 30–year cycle, I think for the first scenario to come to fruition.” –James A. Danowski, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, founder of the Communication and Technology Division of the International Communication Association; http://www.uic.edu/depts/comm/facultydanowski.shtml

“Artificial intelligence will certainly accomplish many if not all of the goals of the semantic Web, but I do not think that the semantic Web is the right mechanism for helping computers truly understand the Internet. The idea behind the semantic Web is too artificial and makes too many false assumptions about the inputs.” –Hal Eisen, senior software engineering manager for Ask.com; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/hal-eisen/0/95/a24

“My answer is misleading here, because I think semantic technologies are already having a huge impact, and will continue to develop and improve a host of areas in IT. However, the vision of Tim Berners-Lee and other SemWeb evangelists has often been unrealistic – not because of the tech but because of the human logistics and desires for control. Much of what they talked about (e.g., the dentist appt. example) will be addressed more effectively through social computing as much as semantic tech, and the two will be incrementally improved and integrated into IT workflows in such a manner that most users will never notice the improvement – it will just ‘work better’ and be seen as a natural evolution, rather than as a result of some particular technology.” –Patrick Schmitz, semantic services architect, University of California Berkeley

“The semantic Web will unfold as a vast network of bot programs running on behalf of humans, but increasingly autonomously. These bots will query databases, make inferences and decisions of which human users are only informed after the fact or during exceptions that cross a certain threshold – be it value, threat or privacy. Software and everyday objects will recognize their owners, fellow devices and share information about their human users.” –Steffan Heuer, US correspondent for Brand Eins (German business magazine); http://www.linkedin.com/in/steffanheuer

“What Tim Berners-Lee envisioned is part of the logical evolution of the information service age. It started with the Ted Nelson and ‘hypertext’ takes a step with the World Wide Web, gets a bump with XML and related technologies. I also see semantic interactions based on voice, not just, ‘finger–based.’” –David Moskowitz, principal consultant at Productivity Solutions Inc. and lead editor of OS/2 Warp Unleashed is a consultant and editor on new and emerging technology

“The concept of a semantic Web, much like Mr. Gates' idea of a paperless society, is a useful Utopian ideal, but of little practical import.” –Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles, blogger and Webmaster at CorDdancer.com; http://www.corndancer.com/crow/crowhome.html

“With all due respect to Sir Tim, I think the semantic Web has failed to reach critical mass because the benefits aren't clear enough to warrant a wholesale migration. The evolution of practices on the Web may incorporate SW aspects, but it will be too subtle for users to notice.” –Mark Richmond, technologist for US District Courts, founding board member of the National Online Media Association (1993)

“The semantic Web has been the ‘next great thing’ for at least six years with little discernible progress. Some features will migrate to general use but not the ‘Semantic Web’ as a total concept.” –Chris Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress Inc.; http://www.solutionsforprogress.com/Expertise/Chris_Jacobs.php

“I deeply support the general idea of a semantic Web. If this thing is fed from anonymous users, in a rush without copy editing or any sort of quality control, it is rubbish. Worse still it's more dangerous than having nothing at all. Based on my experience to date (including a publicly accessible database of “so called facts”) this needs mechanisms to make it reliable. (I'd guess that a majority of mankind will produce fact–free facts. For those who care we need a way to exclude that rubbish.) So: Great idea. Has potential to be very evil if done wrong. Hopefully there will be a way to make it work. I'm optimistic that something like this can be achieved in limited areas.” –Mike Gale, director of decision support systems at Decision Engineering, http://au.linkedin.com/pub/mike-gale/3/a6a/a4

“The concept of the semantic Web is terrifying for governments and they will try their hardest to block progress.” –Jacqui Wilkinson, marketing and advertising professional at Directability; http://directability.co.nz/

“Artificial intelligence has been making leaps, perhaps not noticed so much but it is there. This is greatly aided by the giant collection of data it can mine called the Internet.”–Asim Chowdury, communications professional who writes as @technosociology on Twitter

“The spirit of the semantic Web as envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee will exist, though it will be implemented in a different way – something that grows out of the open movement. Some people will use it, know about it and leverage it... while others will benefit without knowing what it is and how it works.” –Peter Rawsthorne, learning systems architect at WikiEducator, AIM Language Institute and Bowen Island Ourselves (self-governance)

“Someone like Google might attempt to approximate a semantic Web through its algorithms and processing of user feedback (both implicit and explicit), but no true semantic Web will be attained.” –Michael Zimmer, assistant professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-zimmer/2/821/b84

“The whole semantic Web thing has somehow bored me. Since getting online in ’87 and on the Web in '92, I've seen people, not systems, as the prime organizers of information. This will continue for some time.” –Jason Nolan, assistant professor, Ryerson University, and founding co-editor of the journal Learning Inquiry; http://www.ryerson.ca/ece/faculty_staff/fulltime/nolan_jason.html

“I applaud Tim Berners-Lee and his vision. Indeed, I'm a big fan (if he's got a fan club). However, I believe it will take longer than 10 years before his vision is realized in any meaningful way. It will require the cooperation of too many different entities that generally fail to cooperate well.” –Peter Van Ness, founder and president of Legal Music, LLC, producer of gimmesound.com; http://www.vngroup.com/Sources.htm 

Many more responses to the future of institutions and the Internet question will be added to this page in coming weeks!

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