6 April 2010

Before I write what I write before the next time I write

It seems my last poll revealed that there are still people in the library world who hasn't rejected me, or, perhaps a stronger theory, likes to watch road accidents. So my next piece is being written about why the library world fails so badly at technology and seeing the future (or even their own relevance to it), but I'm somewhat busy these days with real work, so a few more days, ok?

However, all is not lost. I've got a few things to say about, well, the stuff I work with, that bucket I stick my head in every day to see if the crap I put in it yesterday has turned to gold yet. No luck so far.

There's a peculiar discussion going on in the Semantic Web mailing-list at the W3C, of which Bernard Vatant will fill you in. It's funny to watch; where are the success stories, where is the commercial viability, does it even work in academia, has it got traction, what do we do now? Why aren't more people doing it? Why haven't the world adopted this specific and undoubtedly brilliant world-view yet? Are we all mad!?

I'm sure you can fill in with our own Topic Maps echo here, but the more you dig, the more you discover that most of the sillies put up as a reason or a scapegoat for the lack of world dominance are things that, frankly, the Topic Maps community have figured out long ago, and some of those missing features in their world is a dominant feature in ours. And we haven't taken over the world, either. Bummer.

It's frustrating, I know, but what can we do? There's no amount of technology suave that can beat any status quo that feeds upon itself. No new ideas can beat old ones that seem to work, because, well, the definition of "works" is so multi-faceted and complex and, eh, making lots of money for lots of people. Semantic Web and Topic Maps doesn't make lots of many. Heck, they don't make money, period. They're convenient little technologies that will stay small and insignificant.

I have a plan, though, and it will piss off some of the Topic Maps purist (or, let's face it, even pragmatists) and hopefully some Semantic Web people as well. First, I'll rename it something cool - maybe something like NoSQL or something - and then rename the integral concepts, strip away the jargon, and make it web-friendly by injecting it straight into HTML5 based technology, and relate all queries through SQL. Mwuahaha, I might even throw some REST API's in there, just to stir it up some more. And I shall call it ; the web.

Man, I hate these technical wars over standards and ways of doing things. The thing I love about Topic Maps isn't the standard or the specs. No, it's the thinking I'm forced to do in rejecting some parts, while loving others. It's what I take from it. It's the epiphanies it yields.

NoSQL? Semantic Web? Topic Maps? SQL? They're all just abstract interfaces into a set of memory positions shaped by various registers, stacks and pops. Standardizing our ways is just a step on the ladder of the future, not a platform upon which we have to stand firm.

Anyway, the whole NoSQL thing is something I'll have to write about more later. Right now dinner and kids and cleaning the house beckons.

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