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Web Evolution

Today I’ve read Yihong Ding article “Evolution of the World Wide Web”. I considered it’s the best article about Semantic Web I ever read. Honestly.

He compares Web evolution stages with human’s growing up stages. It pretty interesting, and well…it works! )

There is a lot of other stuff in his article, but I wanna sleep already! 🙂

Update: Yihong and I started discussion on his article. I’ll post it in comments.

Yihong, do you mind? Let me know if so.


January 27, 2007 - Posted by | future, Semantic Web, tech, Web 2.0


  1. Thank you, Vald. I am glad you like my article. I will response your questions soon.

    Comment by Yihong Ding | January 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. Great, Yihong!

    Comment by bloodcarter | January 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. Vlad Chernyshov said…

    Hi, Yihong!
    Great article! Maybe even the best article about semweb!I can’t wait you to continue it!

    Well, your analogy with humans growing process seems interesting to me. Maybe it’s suitable not only for Web, but for all technologies (genesis process).

    I’ve met with Semantic Web not long ago and I have questions I’d like to discuss.

    1. Why semweb emerging MUCH slower than Web itself?

    2. If one big ultimate ontology is impossible, then how I can do something very complex on semweb?
    And how the agents will discover new ones? From centralized servers??? That’s not a good idea.

    3. How can we avoid incorrectness of the ontologies?

    4. And who will made all this HUGE collection of ontologies?

    5. If an user’s personal agent doing some bandwith-hungry task, and if there is around 1 billion agents, how can the Web bear this?

    6. That is your web search model for semweb? This is interesting.

    7. And, god damned, why almost all semweb tools written in Java!? 🙂

    Recently I’ve been discussing semweb with friend of mine. And he told me: “Vlad, semweb, as I understood, is a Knowledge Base (KB). But this is enormous amount of work to place all human knowledge into ontologies. Heh! We need to take all scientists on the planet and put them together on some island! And, I hope, for 10 years the job will be done!”

    I responded him that we have Wikipedia, whitch is considered impossible till recently.

    Now we see that more and more vendors begin to offer APIs. And we have a lot of mashups on them. But these APIs aren’t built on the same standarts. So it’s very difficult now to create a system that could to use them all in a simple way…And of course I have to register an API key. It’s a huge limitation for using APIs on the fly.

    Wanna hear you comments!)


    1:54 PM
    Yihong Ding said…

    Hi Vlad,

    Thank you for your questions. I think all of them are very good ones. I cannot say that I know precise answers to any of them. But I can try to clarify what I believe about the realization of the Semantic Web.

    1. The reason of the slow realization of Semantic Web is mainly due to the requirement of huge collections of formal knowledge. Certainly there are many other reasons. But to me, I believe this is the most crucial one. Unlike for example the current web, everybody can upload anything without the need of concerning whether it is understandable by machines. The requirement of machine processibility is the most difficult thing to build from scratch.

    2. I totally agree that it is not a good idea to build centralized servers to hold ontologies. Technically, surely we will face many difficulties. But the real problem is from the political side. We cannot allow any organizations, whether or not they are governments, companies, non-profit organizations, or anything else, to get the capability of controlling how humans can think, can present, and can be understood. By the way, this is the philosophy that I believe “Semantic Google” will not replace Google. And if there is a “Semantic Google”, it will definately not be so influential and successful as the current Google.

    So the question is, how to build these ontologies? I believe that it would be collaborative way, and (probably more important) a progressive process. Everyone can build ontologies based on their interest. Whether these ontologies would be accepted, however, may totally depends on how good these ontologies are and how popular these creators are among web users.

    3. Philosophically, there is NO ontology that is incorrect. I guess you can understand this point. Most of the time, the term “correct” is a subjective term. Incorrectness is only something that we do not agree. But if someone else accepts this “unpopular” view, it then becomes correct to these people. Semantic Web must allow this varity. So there must be popular and unpopular ontologies. But incorrect ontologies? I guess there are no incorrect ontologies.

    4. All web users.

    5. This is a very good question. But you may have overlooked one issue. For example, if there is 100 people who want to pass the same door at the same time, this is a big problem. But if these 100 people run to different directions simultanously in a building, there may be no crowd at all. Similarly, everyone of us has our own interest. There are overlaps. But in general, we are running to varied directions. So this problem may not be so serious as you have thought.

    6. I will discuss my search model on the Semantic Web in Part 2. 😉

    7. I don’t know whether it must be Java. But Java is certainly a very good language for web programming. And there are many other languages too, such as AJAX, Rube, PHP, etc.

    As I discussed in my article, the realization of Semantic Web will be a process as human’s growing up. It means that this web cannot be built even if we do have taken all scientists on the planet and put them together on some island! Can a child suddenly become a well-educated adult by forcing learning all books in the world? No, it takes time. And time is important to not only build knowledge, but allow children really understanding knowledge. I forsee that knowledge understanding is not a process that can be done in a minute (like many of current computer programs). But more or less it likes the process of training a machine agent. We need patience and time to input knowledge and allow machines understanding them. What this process needs is not scientists. What this process really needs is time and patience by every normal web users.

    1:47 PM
    Vlad Chernyshov said…

    Hi, Yihong!

    Thank you very much for your answers.

    Yes, I agree that we need huge collections of formal knowledge. I hope that this problem will be solved technically by emerging tools like (Nova Spivack’s company) They promise to show their first product in 2007.

    RDF and OWL are much more complex than HTML. And we need development environments for semweb languages as we have for HTML and other web 1.0, web 2.0 languages (Dreamweaver, etc.)
    And maybe I missed that RDF and OWL went a recommendations only in 2004…

    I totally agree that ontology (or whatever it called) must be developed in a collaborative way like Wikipedia.
    And I also agree that it will be a progressive process. From simpliest (making possible to make general tasks) to complex.

    You said that whether these ontologies would be accepted depends on how they “good” and popular…But if I’m running automatic agent I don’t care which ontology it uses.

    About ‘Semantic Google’ and web search itself: I believe that crawling isn’t a good way for making search engines. It seems to me like something unnatiral. It’s ugly concept. Wasting time, bandwith, computational resources to crawl every page whether it was updated or not. It’s unefficient.
    And of course treating web resources as collection of pages became obsolete. Even now is it useless to crawl a site totally written with AJAX.

    But for now the only alternative to crawling I see is some sort of pinging (like for ex.). Do you have any ideas?

    About incorrectness. Well…I mean how about trustness? 🙂 Of course there can’t be “incorrect ontology”, because every interpretation of human knowledge depends on some agreements between people.

    Well, maybe bandwith isn’t so serious problem as I think. But consider following case: we have some extremely exciting and useful web-service. It is used by 100 millions users. Then service can be invoked a millions times per second. So we have DoS attack!)))
    I have real example for it. Flickr offers API to access photos. I want to have Flickr photos on my plazma screen on the wall every 3 seconds. And also wants a huge crowd. Then for 100 millions users we have approximately 30 000 000 requests per second!

    Yes, realization of Semantic Web takes a time. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t have immediate benefits from this process.
    Now we need several exicting and useful use cases for semweb (or related technologies) to attract critical mass.

    I’m thinking about Web as a programming platform, where web-service, programs, web sites, agents and other entities can collaborate, can be used for dynamical program creation on user’s behalf.
    The early stage of this is mashups. People get exciting about them. There are more than 1500 mashups on the web. I also wrote several.
    But we need to integrate them all to achieve real power.

    And this is my goal. I’m working on this.

    So I can’t wait for your Part 2! 🙂

    2:26 AM

    Comment by bloodcarter | January 29, 2007 | Reply

  4. Yihong Ding said…

    Hi Vlad,

    It is my pleasure to have this discussion with you. Things get to be more and more interesting.

    Nova Spivack is a respective researcher and also a great pioneer on realizing the Semantic Web. I have also read from his article that he claimed to release some practical Semantic Web tools (especially practical semantic annotation tools) in 2007. But I doubt that it will be companied with a large collection of ontologies. Ontology creation is still a hard problem. Actually, it is not just hard. The real problem is that no ones really believe that their created ontologies are useful at the present. In reality, the majority of normal web users even do not have any idea what ontologies are. How can we expect they are going to read, understand, and then use these created ontologies? Therefore, there is no real motivation on developing ontologies for the real world. The only explanation is that the time of Semantic Web has not been ready yet.

    Similar to that people tend to adopt popular tags to label their articles on Web 2.0, popular ontologies definately can get more advocators on Semantic Web. Users do care about which ontologies they have adopted to annotate web pages. In fact, if they annotate their web pages using popular ontologies, their annotated pages may become easier to be understood by the other machines. Otherwise, it means the need of some extra overhead of ontology matching. No matter how good we may have developed ontology matching technologies, this is an overhead. So it will affect the popularity of these annotated web pages. This is the reason I said that whether an ontology is popular or not does matter.

    For web search, no matter whether it is semantic search or not, crawling is still a necessary step. But I totally agree with you that we must reduce the percentage of crawling to improve the performance of web search. Divide-and-conquer can be a good solution. If we can find a way to divide the entire search task to small tasks, then definately we can have better performance. The problem is, however, how to divide. And this is one issue I am going to discuss in Part 2.

    Sorry that I am too busy to release it soon. I only write this article on my free time. And there are too many ideas I need to well compose them together to be a coherent theory. It is not an easy work. But I will let you know as soon as I finish it.

    By the way, thank you very much for pointing me the site It is very interesting. Also, I am glad to know you have many experiences on implementing mashup. Although I know its theory, I have not done it myself. Maybe I can ask for your help to do some mashup myself some time later. 😉
    10:59 PM

    Comment by bloodcarter | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  5. Hi Yihong,

    It’s my pleasure too.

    Normal web user shouldn’t know about ontologies at all, I think.

    There is no real motivation on developing ontologies because whey are useless without software, that uses ontologies.

    By the way, the creator of, Frédérick Giasson (I’m corresponding with him now), is developing Music Ontology now.

    He also wrote about it in his blog

    Also there is a site, which allow to export music data in RDF (till recently as I understand, now they don’t….)

    Hmm….that’s an idea! Let’s share semweb-related links! I will post all semweb links I knew on my blog.

    Yeah, I know crawling is necessary for now. By the way, ping services, such as pingthesemanticweb, can a little improve performance allowing to know when to crawl. But it’s a half-decision.

    Today I’ve received news about STAIR project (STanford Artificial Intelligence Robot) at Stanford University. Their goal is to build a homehelper robot. I think semweb can really help in this process.

    And one more piece of news.

    Recently I’ve found guys developed first world open source mobile platform. They called it OpenMoko. It’s fully based on Linux. And that’s mean not only one can run native Linux programs on it, but also a great amount of other cool stuff.

    Linux on mobile phone (well, on a communicator to be clear) !!! WOW! I want it!)

    This this open source Linux platform it will be much easier to implement various techs and apps (particularly semweb!) .

    For ex., it is possible now to easy implement CC/PP (description of device capabilities and user preferences. This is often referred to as a device’s delivery context and can be used to guide the adaptation of content presented to that device. This is a W3C activity) as Tim Berners-Lee envisioned on his great article here.

    And OpenMoko team placed a FOAF profile on their blog! I’ve found it interesting. This is a new site, and it uses FOAF. I think this trend will grow.

    You know, Yihong, I’ve thought that there is so many interesting places on the Web! Even too many to read whem all!

    In spite of the fact that feeds aggragators and services such as Netvibes help people very much, they only can narrow all the news on the Web. But there can be uninteresting things for a user even within one feed.

    I want to receive only feeds that I’m interested in. Because it takes too much time to get rid of them all.

    🙂 I think that you’re overestimating my mashup experiences, but it will be pleasure for me to collaborate with you.


    Comment by bloodcarter | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hi Vlad,

    Finally, I uploaded the second part of my web evolution article. Though it is still the first draft, you are welcomed to look at it and please have some comments after reading. Hope you would like it better this time.



    Comment by Yihong Ding | May 2, 2007 | Reply

  7. Hi Yihong,

    At last you finished your next article!!!! Great work! I’m suspicious that you’ve done one of the most comprehensive web research.

    Now about article.
    1. You wrote that the invention of AJAX is a fundamental upgrade. But there is one disadvantage with it: the data cannot be pushed to client by a server. it must be polled from server. This cause a lot of bandwith consuming and thus, unefficient. The techology that can solve this problem called Comet. It’s a some kind of AJAX extension to provide server-push mesages. So client receive information just in time it changes. There is some work on this problem like Cometd and a commercial solution Lightstreamer.

    2.About ACtS and Linden Labs. I think that Second Life is a Web in 3-5 years. It cool for many things like entertainment, education and business, but for now it not so useful for other things. Besides, Linden Labs has opened sources of SL client and soon they’ll open server’s sources. Then we’ll see.

    3. I can’t see the role of web app and their APIs in your model. How about that?

    Sorry for short comment, Yihong, I had a hard workout today. Would you please post your answer here and on my blog?

    Comment by bloodcarter | May 9, 2007 | Reply

  8. Hi Vlad,

    Thank you for your comments. Here are some brief answers to the questions you have addressed.

    1. AJAX is a fundamental upgrade. It does not mean that AJAX is flawless. In fact, no single technology is flawless. As you have pointed out, AJAX has its problems on bandwidth consuming. And indeed, it has several other problems as well. But it does not hurt its contribution. Because of AJAX, Web-2.0 quality resources become useful and prevalence on the web. This is why we name it as a fundamental upgrade.

    Thank you for pointing out the Comet. I will take a careful look at it. Based on your description, the purpose of Comet is to fix the existing problems of AJAX and thus accerlerate the spread of Web-2.0 applications. This kind of inventions exactly demonstrates that we are now in the middle of the Web 2.0 stage, the main task of which is to rapidly accumulate Web-2.0 quality resources.

    2. Yes, I also have noticed some reports about Linden Lab and its plan of open source SL clients. This is a great movement according to our vision of web evolution. Now the lack of action to the Linden Lab is to design a model of “education client.” Since you have read my article, you must know that this “education client” is not for humans to be educated, but for machines to be educated. Though I have this vision that this type of “education client” will appear, I don’t know how it may be looked like since I am not good at game design. But this is certainly the Linden Lab should go for if it wants to be not only a company of computer games.

    3. In this model, web applications and their APIs are services in varied complexity. You must have know the current trend of SaaS (Software as a service). Applications turn to be services. This is a certain direction that can be well explained in this web evolution theory.

    In fact, currently we still have the difference between applications and services only because the majority of us still think that we are the residents on the web. Therefore, applications are for us (human), and services are for web spaces (machine). But the prevalence of SaaS has represented a trend that we want to shift our load as much as possible to machines. This trend also means that the current distinction between web applications and web services will be less and less significant, and may eventually disappear.

    Thank you for you comments and look for more discussions with you.


    Comment by Yihong Ding | May 10, 2007 | Reply

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