Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Today’s dummies – Tomorrow’s génies

„Making Everything Easier” is the well known motto of the „For Dummies” series of books. The series has a good track of bringing even the most difficult technologies and skills to the level of a layman. Looking into the past, we can track that in most cases soon after a book „X for Dummies” was published, X became really important.

So I was extremely happy to find “Semantic Web for Dummies” by Jeffrey T. Pollock (http://www.semanticwebfordummies.com/). First, Jeffrey T. Pollock is really a personage of the Semantic Web. Software industry veteran for many years, now with Oracle, where he is a true trailblazer for Semantic Web technologies at the most advanced database and business software vendor. Second - so far, Semantic Web was the domain of highly sophisticated academic discourses and abstract papers far from reality.

“Semantic Web for Dummies” breaks from this tradition and shows its very practical applications. For example in Chapters “The Semantic Web in Your Life” the author shows the importance of Semantic Web for social Web2.0 experience. As he goes through solutions like Twine, TripIt, ZoomInfo or Dapper – he demonstrates that, somehow unconsciously, we are already using it! Then he switches to business use cases and writes about semantic applications, databases, policies and shows how important it can be for data integration – the most critical of today’s business systems challanges.

The book has nice parts like “A Quick Semantic Web Primer” or “Using the Resource Description Framework” aimed at teaching RDF, and “Speaking the Web Ontology Language” – aimed at OWL. In “Exploring Semantic Web Enablers” Pollock goes through all important components of Semantic Web. I was, however, a bit disappointed that the sub-chapter about SPARQL – such important part of SW was only 1,5 page long – certainly too short !!!

The best parts of the book are part IV “Putting the Semantic Web to Work” and V “The Parts of Tens”. The former for its practical attitude and lots of existing examples (e.g. I was amazed by “Harpers Magazine” experience), the later is quite philosophical, nevertheless it defends SW using the same “Ten Myths” method – once used by emerging XML technology.
By rebuking these myths Pollock truly answers all important doubts and hesitations about Semantic Web technologies.

The book concludes by a series of very practical suggestions – “Ten Next Steps” – where the reader gets practical advises what to check, train or contact, if she/he wants to participate in the growing tide of Semantic Webs :-)

I strongly recommend the book – it is the best introduction into Semantic Web I found on the market, so far.

Post written on beautiful Crete:

1 comment:

  1. These are great SW resources, but...the pictures are so lovely! So I'm thanking you for those right now. It is good to know that the "Dummies" book was so good - it sounds like just what I would want.