What is the Potential of Semantic Technology – Part 1

Over the past two years I’ve tried very hard to help define the potential application for this technology area in the context of Information Technology disciplines or problem spaces – out of those efforts has come a focus on:

  • Cyber Security
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Healthcare Interoperability
  • Dynamic E-learning
  • SOA
  • ERP
  • Government 3.0 / Policy Integration

The reason I’ve been doing this is that like any new technology, it is often difficult to imagine how Semantics might best be exploited. I’ve lived through similar with other technology disciplines – for example I was involved with the E-learning community in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. My goal with that community was similar to one I have for this one – provide a comprehensive vision on the transformative potential of the sum total of capabilities that are emerging as opposed to any one product or product class. For E-learning the real potential was learner empowerment and the ability to provide more options with education both as a business model as well as philosophical framework.

In 1999 when I was on Cisco’s E-learning Architecture team, I didn’t imagine that my own child (who was 3 at the time) would have the opportunity or choice to attend a virtual public school if we so desired – yet that came to pass two years ago. Yet even that application is still a limited subset of what will be possible fairly soon.

We are at critical juncture with Semantic Technology, both in terms of defining the vision as well as the business models necessary to actualize them.

When we say Semantic Technology – what is it that we’re really talking about? That’s the question that many people still ask those of us who are and have been advocates for this – so what’s the answer?
Semantic Technology is the combination of 3 elements:

1 – A evolved realization as to what data interoperability and Internet connectivity provide in terms of potential – the philosophy.

2 – The set of W3C standards and related products (open source and commercial) that are beginning to exploit the worldwide defined in the previous element.

3 – The adoption of coherent and comprehensive methodologies that allow for the successful merger of the previous two elements – Potential + Technical Foundation in order to solve problems

That last sentence is particularly important both for information technology and for science in general. Solving a problem is more than asking a question – asking questions is a merely semantic tool for helping to clarify meaning – but one question cannot exist in a vacuum.

copyright 2010, Stephen Lahanas



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