Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I am so obsessed with this Semantic Web thing

In an earlier blog post I reflected on the fact that it is now 25 years since the web was born. I had the opportunity to bring web technology into a large organisation. Many colleagues asked Why are you so obsessed by this "Web thing"? (remember that this was the time when a Swedish minister said that "Internet är bara en fluga").

So, now in 2014 many ask me Why are you so obsessed with this "Semantic Web thing"?.

I had a good chance to reflect on this question when I was asked to be one of the keynote speaker at a very nice conference: SWAT4LS, Semantic Web Applications and Tools for Life Science, in Edinburgh. 


I was also interviewed together with other speakers by the eCancer organisation in relation  to the EURECA (Enabling information re-Use by linking clinical REsearch and Care) project, Always scary to see, and hear yourself, but I think I managed to convey some of my thoughts. And it is really nice to watch the interviews with Frank van Harmelen,Eric Prud'hommeaux, Robert Stevens and David Kerr.

However, I think the one that best expressed the answer to the question was Charlie Mead. Charlie has been around in a long time in the standard world, working with HL7 for health care data and CDISC for clinical research data. Charlie is now a co-chair of the W3C interest group for semantic web for health care and life sciences (HCLS). I recommend this 7 minutes interview with Charlie. Below I have transcribed the last part of it as I think Charlie well express the reasons for Why I'm so obsessed by this "Semantic Web thing".

Charlie Mead
W3C HCLS semantic web interest group
"The thing that is really astonishing about the semantic web, the tools and technologies, really solve all of the core problems that we struggled with for a very long time. 
And they solve them in a very elegant way, which almost by magic, that live on top of the Internet that we now works and have brought tremendous value. 
And I think the real barrier to adopt these technologies is that is if more people understood what they can do I think the change curve will come faster and the resistance would melt more quickly."

Kudos to Scott Marshall, W3C and EURECA project, (@mscottmarshall)
for arranging the interviews and to the eCancer TV team.
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