Ban the Semantic Web Layer Cake!
The good old Semantic Web layer cake ... it has served us quite well by giving some illustration to the un-illustrateable. But surprisingly there seem to be people that actually take it literally and thereby it is starting to cause more harm than good - for this reason it should be retired, never to be shown again.
Here it is, in all its glory and the most current version I could find (from Jim Hendlers "Dark Side" slides).
So, how can this innocent looking boxes hurt? Let me enumerate a couple of ways:
- The layer cake gave us unreadable serializations. The ugly RDF/XML was only the start, to be followed by the even worse serialization of OWL in RDF in XML - that even hints at a RDF-OWL compatibility that isn't there. We have to stop this before someone comes up with a serialization of Prolog in RIF in RDF in XML!
- The idea that "Trust" is the final and last stage* to be added on top lead to the ignorance in the SW community of trust issues - even though this is one of the most important questions for the future web.
- The idea that we first have to build this entire "protocol stack" before real Semantic Web applications can be build was one of the reasons the Semantic Web community became so academic and self-centered.
- The layer cake makes it hard to bring the lowercase semantic web developments into the SW mainstream, this would require the SW community to accept that in fact you can have meaningful and helpful semantic web applications just on top of the two lowest layers.
- Finally the layer cake facilitated the hijacking of Semantic Web research by the old fashioned logic and knowledge representation communities/ideas (which in turn lead to formalisms that for all we know are too slow and too brittle to work on a web scale).
*: This "UI" layer is relatively recent, trust used to be the uppermost layer for most of the time.