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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Tim Berners-Lee on semantic webs and new standards

Tim Berner -Lee,named by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest minds of the 20th century is now busy channeling his energies into the work of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a standards body he founded and now directs. He spends his time hailing the virtues of the Semantic Web and working to create standards that will drive the Web to its full potential. Sir Tim recently discussed the state of the Web browser market, the growth of the Semantic Web and some of the challenges facing the W3C. Sir Tim says, "We've come a long way with Web browsers, but there are still things to do to get it right. When we talk about Web browsers, we have to talk about standards compliance". The key problem in security is attributed to the fact that software client's nature of understanding the content rendered. You could build the client to display pictures, text, documents and not ever execute scripts. The fact that there's no concrete wall between browsing e-mail and installing software is amazing.Also, that operating systems aren't able to distinguish between things which can carry a virus and which don't is a mistake. While on the progress of the semantic web, he feels that the foundation is in place with the approval of RDF [Resource Description Framework] and OWL [Web Ontology Language]. In this phase, we can build up and out from those foundations.In practical terms, the semantic web movement has reached a certain level of maturity.The excitement that it continues to generate is encouraging. The military needs it; the health sector needs it. There's already an academic field around it. The biggest challenges facing w3c can be summarised as:
A.The tension over patents and propriety standards. The standards are getting adopted by W3C despite the fact that big companies are doing their own thing.
B.Another big problem is the question of patents and royalties. W3C has made some huge strides, but it's still something that may loom going forward. It's encouraging that a lot of large companies are realizing that they have to allow royalty-free use of patents to take the industry forward.
C.Web Services also present a challenge for W3C. This is an area that's quite big as the others.
The area to watch is the mobile Web. A lot of initiatives and energy in this space is seen now. Dr.Tim warns that If you were to isolate all the mobile stuff under one domain(.MOBI), it would die. It won't be the real Web. He is suggesting to take all the energy, and this desire to make the mobile Web accessible, and pour it into the work at the W3C. W3C has already done a lot of work around .Device Independence. Sir Tim's vision of the web standards -"What we really need to do is show how to use the existing technology of the mobile Web to allow access to a unified Web from any device, in any context, by anyone. I'd like to see us work towards some really strong interoperability to say, "look, let's make phones that meet these standards. Let's make Web sites that meets these standards.""

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