How bad is the Semantic Abyss for the Semantic Web? Well, it is so bad that the process of trying to find or construct an ontology has been dubbed ontology dowsing]. Really. Seriously. It is that bad. The web page for Ontology Dowsing tells us:
At the moment, the methods used in practice to locate an adequate vocabulary for describing one's data in RDF are more akin to dowsing than to an educated, technically-guided choice, supported by scientific tools and methodologies. While the situation is improving with the progress of Semantic Web search engines and better education, oftentimes data publishers still rely on informal criteria such as word-of-mouth, reputation or follow-your-nose strategies.
This page tries to identify methods, tools, applications, websites or communities that can help Linked Data publishers to discover or build the right vocabulary they need.
The web page provides references to:
- Lists of ontologies
- Search engines
- Mailing lists/online communities
- Ontology Editors
- Related Events, Projects, etc.
That's a good start, but the bottom line is that automatic search for ontologies is still a hard AI problem.
What I want to see is a relatively simple tool that lets me describe my data as I see it, including example data, and then goes off and tries to match my ontological structure and data examples with existing ontologies and data and then suggests possible ontologies. A further step would be to then automatically generate an ontology alignment mapping (inferences) so that my data can then appear to the world as if structured in known ontologies. In some cases I might want to move to a known ontology, but in other cases my ontology may be "better" or maybe just a more convenient shorthand that works well for me. Alas, my model is not "aligned" with current reality. Hence, another manifestation of The Semantic Abyss.