Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Semantic" Web Services... not actually Semantic

Now the semantic web as championed by non other than Tim Berners-Lee is one of those next generation things. Since talking about Web Service 2.0 I've spent more time look at the Semantic web stuff and I'm beginning to spot something. Its actually not semantics of Web Services at all, its just the semantics of the information passed, and there is a massive difference.

Semantics is defined as

In the main, semantics (from the Greek semantic, or "significant meaning," derived from sema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term.

Now the TBL version is aimed at the web itself which is about the exchange of information and hence those semantics (meanings) refer to the information exchange. With Services its a completely different story however as they are not simply about information exchange but also about the effect that the service has. This means that a semantic definition of a service (i.e. one that describes its meaning) must including not only the semantics of the information exchange but also the semantics of its function and its this element that all of the current Semantic web services work seems to "nicely" avoid. The problem here is that while the Semantic web is a powerful concept when trying to traverse and make sense of information the current efforts do little, or nothing, to help when trying to make sense of the effects or functions of services.

So it is a misuse of the term "Semantic" to apply to web services when the only definition is of the information being exchange. Until the semantics can ascribe meaning to the functional effects of a service (e.g. "Don't call me at 2am I'll be down for backups", "before calling me you have to have done a fraud check", "after I finish there will be no people called John in the system" etc) then they aren't actual defining the meaning of Services.

So the current status is:

Semantic Web - cool
Semantic Web Services - fraud.

No comments: