I should start by saying that I am not a programmer. That said, I have spent a good amount of time researching semantic technology and considering its possibilities in the context of various value networks.

With this post, I will start to work through some ideas that this research has led me to, and I’m hoping that interested readers will be moved to contribute their own thoughts.

We’ve all seen the many explanations of what semantic technology is – on the technical end, the standards of RDF and OWL, and on a basic level, the using of those standards to enable machines to “understand” what we mean. There is one dimension of all this that I find fascinating, but I haven’t found much about it.

Semantic technologies are in essence the raw materials of an architecture for defining that which we do not yet know. We can use these tools to enable us to build systems around what we do know, but in ways that allow for the unknown. In the context of a schema-driven relational architecture, we are bound in the future by the structures we create today, to handle the information we can think of at the time of development. With RDF and OWL, we are able to use the knowledge we have today, and we can make assertions in the future to adapt to relationships that are emergent.

The important thing about this is that it treats these tools as enablers of live, if not iterative, development in any domain – yes, in terms of software development, but more generally in terms of knowledge development. If the Web is becoming a database to be tapped on the fly, we have to make what we create adaptive and responsive to unforeseeable discoveries.