Trend Against Semantic Web

Semantic web is one of the hottest trend in 2009 and should continue to be so in 2010 (like in this article: Top 5 Web Trends of 2009.) We talked about this during the dinner time with Gao Xiang of Hubs1, and other great guys.

I personally don’t see huge potential of semantic web.

X.400 vs SMTP email address

If you compare the two implementation of email address,

X.400 representation:


SMTP address:

The later is better, I think. The first one is very semantic, and contains organized, structured information, like the country (C), the organization (O), private management domain Name (P), Surname (S), Given Name (G), but is that all that important for human even computer to understand that?

Human is not Semantic

Basically, as Gao Xiang pointed it out, human beings are not semantic. They love to dance, to drink, to sing, but don’t like to act as machines. Machines like semantic. It should be the machines moving toward human, not the other way.

Look at this “Semantic way” of representing an EMAIL address:

Attribute Type Abbreviation Label

(where necessary)

Given Name Given name G

Initial Initials I

Surname Surname S

Generation Qualifier Generation Q

Common Name Common Name CN

Organization Organization O

Organizational Unit 1 Org.Unit.1 OU1

Organizational Unit 2 Org.Unit.2 OU2

Organizational Unit 3 Org.Unit.3 OU3

Organizational Unit 4 Org.Unit.4 OU4

Private Management Domain Name PRMD P

Administration Management Domain Name ADMD A

Country Country C

Physical Delivery Personal Name PD-person PD-PN

Extension of Postal O/R Address

Components PD-ext.address PD-EA

Extension of Physical Delivery Address

Components PD-ED

Physical Delivery Office Number PD-office number PD-OFN

Physical Delivery Office Name PD-office PD-OF

Physical Delivery Organization Name PD-organization PD-O

Street Address PD-street PD-S

Unformatted Postal Address PD-address PD-A1


(there are individual labels for PD-A3

each line of the address) PD-A4



Unique Postal Name PD-unique PD-U

Local Postal Attributes PD-local PD-L

Postal Restante Address PD-restante PD-R

Post Office Box Address PD-box PD-B

Postal Code PD-code PD-PC

Physical Delivery Service Name PD-service PD-SN

Physical Delivery Country Name PD-country PD-C

X.121 Network Address X.121 X.121

E.163/E.164 Network Address ISDN ISDN

PSAP Network Address PSAP PSAP

User Agent Numeric ID N-ID N-ID

Terminal Identifier T-ID T-ID

Terminal Type T-TY T-TY

Domain Defined Attribute DDA:


I am so happy that the collective wisdom of Internet age didn’t adopt this form, and used the current type of system.

2 thoughts on “Trend Against Semantic Web

  1. This phrase ‘semantic web’ is really a distortion of the meaning of ‘semantic’ which is about meaning. The way of changing email addresses you’ve shown is just adding metadata, another level of data does not add any meaning. Machines are by definition syntactic, not semantic and this is a crucial distinction between them and human beings. For anyone interested in a rigorous scientific treatment, the work of Robert Rosen is pertinent :

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