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    I think this will not succeed for the same reason that RSS feeds has not (or REST). The problem with “just providing the data” is that businesses don’t want to just be data services.

    They want to advertise to you, watch what you’re doing, funnel you through their sales paths, etc. This is why banks have never ever (until recently, UK is slowly developing this) provided open APIs for viewing your bank statement.

    This is why businesses LOVE apps and hate web sites, always bothering you to install their app. It’s like being in their office. When I click a link from the reddit app, it opens a temporary view of the link. When I’m done reading, it takes me back to the app. I remain engaged in their experience. On the web your business page is one click away from being forgotten. The desire to couple display mechanism with model is strong.

    The UK government is an exception, they don’t gain monetary value from your visits. As a UK citizen and resident, I can say that their web site is a fantastically lucid and refreshing experience. That’s because their goal is, above all, to inform you. They don’t need to “funnel” me to pay my taxes, because I have to do that by law anyway. It’s like reading Wikipedia.

    I would love web services to all provide a semantic interface with automatically understandable schemas. (And also terminal applications, for that matter). But I can’t see it happening until a radical new business model is developed.

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      This is why banks have never ever (until recently, UK is slowly developing this) provided open APIs for viewing your bank statement.

      This has happened in all EU/EEA countries after the Payment Services Directive was updated in 2016 (PSD2). It went into effect in September 2019, as far as I remember. It’s been great to see how this open banking has made it possible for new companies to create apps that can e.g. gather your account details across different banks instead of having to rely on the banks’ own (often terrible) apps.

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        The problem with PSD2 to my knowledge is that it forces banks to create an API an open access for Account Information Service Providers and Payment Initiation Services Providers, but not an API to you, the customer. So this seems to be a regulation that opens up your bank account to other companies (if you want), but not to the one person who should get API access. Registration as such a provider costs quite some money (I think 5 digits of Euros), so it’s not really an option to register yourself as a provider.

        In Germany, we already seem to have lots of Apps for management of multiple bank accounts, because a protocol called HBCI seems to be common for access to your own account. But now people who use this are afraid that banks could stop this service when they implement PSD2 APIs. And then multi-account banking would only become possible through third-party services - who probably live from collecting and selling your data.

        Sorry if something is wrong. I do not use HBCI, but that’s what I heard from other people.

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          I work on Open Banking APIs for a UK credit card provider.

          A large reason I see that the data isn’t made directly available to the customer is because if the customer were to accidentally leak / lose their own data, the provider (HSBC, Barclays etc) would be liable, not you. That means lots of hefty fines.

          You’d also likely be touching some PCI data, so you’d need to be cleared / set up to handle that safely (or having some way to filter it before you received it).

          Also, it requires a fair bit of extra setup and the use of certificate-based authentication (MTLS + signing request objects) means that as it currently sits you’d be need one of those, which aren’t cheap as they’re all EV certs.

          Its a shame, because the customer should get their data. But you may be able to work with intermediaries that may provide an interface for that data, who can do the hard work for you, ie https://www.openwrks.com/

          (originally posted at https://www.jvt.me/mf2/2019/12/7o91a/)

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        Yes, this does seem like a naive view of why the web is what it is. It’s not always about content and data. For a government, this makes sense. They don’t need to track you or view your other browsing habits in order to offer you something else they’re selling. Other entities do not have the incentive to make their data easier to access or more widely available.

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          That’s very business centric view of the web, there’s a lot more to the internet than businesses peddling things to you. As an example, take a look at the ecosystem around ActivityPub. There are millions of users using services lile Mastodon, Pleroma, Pixelfed, PeetTube, and so on. All of them rely on being able to share data with one another to create a federation. All these projects directly benefit from exposing the data because the overall community grows, and it’s a cooperative effort as opposed to a competitive one.

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            It’s a realistic view of the web. Sure, people who are generating things like blogs or tweets may want to share their content without monetizing you, but it’s not going to fundamentally change a business like a bank. What incentive is there for a bank to make their APIs open to you? Or an advertiser? Or a magazine? Or literally any business?

            There’s nothing stopping these other avenues (like the peer-based services you are referring to) from trying to be as open as possible, but it doesn’t mean the mainstream businesses are ever going to follow suit.

            I think it’s also noteworthy that there is very little interesting content on any of those distributed systems, which is why so many people end up going back to Twitter, Instagram, etc.

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              My point is that I don’t see business as the primary value of the internet. I think there’s far more value in the internet providing a communication platform for regular people to connect, and that doesn’t need to be commercialized in any way. Businesses are just one niche, and it gets disproportionate focus in my opinion.

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          Aye, currently there is little motivation for companies to share data outside silos

          That mind-set isn’t really sustainable in the long term though as it limits opportunity. Data likes to date and there are huge opportunities once that becomes possible.

          The business models to make that worth pursuing are being worked on at high levels.

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            Ruben Verborgh, one of the folks behind the Solid initiative 1, has a pretty good essay 2 that details a world in which storage providers compete to provide storage, and application providers compete on offering different views to data that you already own.

            Without getting into Solid any more in this post, I will say that there are a ton of websites run by governments, non-profits, personal blogs, or other situations where semantically available data would be a huge boon. I was looking through a page of NSA funded research groups the other day for McMurdo station 3, and finding what each professor researched on took several mouse clicks per professor. If this data was available semantically, a simple query would be enough to list the areas of research of every group and every professor.

            One can think of a world where brick-and-mortar businesses serve their data semantically on their website, and aggregators (such as Google Maps, Yelp, and TripAdvisor) can aggregate them, and enable others to use the data for these businesses without creating their own scrapers or asking a business to create their own API. Think about a world where government agencies and bureaucracies publish data and documents in an easy to query manner. Yes, the world of web applications is hard to bring the semantic web to due to existing incentives for keeping data siloed, but there are many applications today that could be tagged semantically but aren’t.

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              The web has been always used mostly for fluff since day 1, and “web assembly” is going to make it more bloated, like the old browser-side java.

              The world needs user-centric alternatives once again.

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              Iiuc, this is an endorsement for the semantic web. I’m definitely convinced that’s an aim worth pursuing.

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                No mention of the semantic web can be complete without a reference to the Metacrap essay. I’m not saying that the post is wrong, but I am saying that if you plan to promote the semantic web you have to say how you intend to deal with crappy metadata.

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                  This excites me in a way the web no longer does, I think because it is content-centric.

                  I’m reminded of Alan Kay disparaging the web, arguing that it should be a set of standardized protocols rather than coupling the display mechanism directly to the content. This is a step towards that it looks like.

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                    I like this in every regard except the search engine one. Never leaving google while browsing is far too trackable, centralized, and hurtful to small online publishers who need you to click through.

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                      I’m having a problem with the proposed terminology, “isn’t the web”. Semantics and open data APIs were part of the Web from the beginning, and if anything, the Web is about URLs and HTTP, not HTML and CSS.

                      As for the rest, yes, the post reads like it was written in early 00’s where we all were still rosy-eyed and didn’t understand that businesses couldn’t care less about open data.

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                        They do care about open data, in that they are actively against it.

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                        We had something like this already, unsurprisingly enough. That something was WAIS.

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                          You’re gonna have to expand on this acronym, Google suggests some sort of IQ test.

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                            Sorry, not Wechsler! You can see how much it’s been forgotten, but it was a thing in the mid 1990s.


                            Lots of interconnected databases you could query that returned structured results.

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                          I don’t agree. This article is more about data accessibility.

                          I think the future of the web is a renaissance of quality websites.

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                            One of the problem of Schema.org in my opinion is that it makes information invisible. If you already have ISBN for review, then show it to me, the reader, too! Microformats are better in that way: you mark up what’s visible on the page.

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                              I wish this was the future of the web. It was once a possible future. We left that future behind in the early 2000s.

                              Today, the future of the web looks to me like monetization and silos.

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                                Ah awesome link, and the web of data is very close to my heart.

                                I don’t think this is an endorsement of the literal semantic web. Sadly that effort was an abject failure for many well-documented reasons.

                                It is good to hear that people are still striving for the core ideas. An awful lot of people, including myself (shameless plug) have been chipping away at this for a while.

                                The perspective and comment @mattgreenrocks made about standardized protocols being important is something I share. Protocols, schema and API’s and all need to compose at very low functional levels. It is very important to take a holistic view and not go off half-baked on it.

                                Fingers crossed we’ll get there soon.