Kurt Cagle

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Kurt Cagle is Managing Editor for Cognitive World, and is a contributing writer for Forbes, focusing on future technologies, science, enterprise data management, and technology ethics. He also runs his own consulting company, Semantical LLC, specializing on Smart Data, and is the author off more than twenty books on web technologies, search and data. He lives in Issaquah, WA with his wife, Cognitive World Editor Anne Cagle, daughters and cat (Bright Eyes). 


2 hours 58 minutes ago
Machine learning is a powerful tool in the AI toolbox, but its limitations must be understood to use effectively. GETTY Machine learning has become the latest darling of the IT marketing space, a secret sauce that is supposed to turbo-charge computers and brings us closer to the nirvana of artificial intelligence dominance …. or something like that. Like so much of what comes out of IT marketing, most of it is hype and deceptive hype at that. While there is a lot of power in what machine learning can do,…

4 days 4 hours ago
Time-shifting the Generations Bloomberg has lately been running a superb series about the generations growing up in the shadows of the Millennials. Go read it, though read mine as well, as I've been watching the emergence of this particular generation for a while, and disagree with a few of the conclusions that the Bloomberg articles make.First, a question of timing. The whole notion of generations came about due to the work of two sociologists — William Strauss and Neil Howe, in the 1991 book Generations…

1 week 1 day ago
Once the need for a physical medium for currency disappears, the potential for radical change in financial systems rises dramatically. We're entering into this era now. GETTY In the 18th Century, a venture begun in England established an outpost in the New World around Hudson Bay. The Hudson Bay Company was given license by the crown to exploit the bounty of the Northernmost parts of North America, and eventually, a trading network was built out, trading fur, woods and mineral resources. This network…

1 week 5 days ago
How you go about getting a job will affect your life and career for years. Understand what you're doing, but most of all, believe in yourself. GETTY As an IT consultant, I have had, over the years, needed to negotiate salaries and later contracts for my work. I'm still not very good at it, though in general, I've learned enough to stay employed during even slow times. Throughout all this, I've found that there are a few good rules of thumb that help me determine what constitutes my upper and lower limits…

1 week 5 days ago
Alexandru Florea extends a hand. ALEXANDRU FLOREA Alexandru Iulian Florea didn't start to become a multimillionaire. At the age of 26, with his family unhappy with him for leaving university, Florea was given the option of moving out or getting a job to start paying for family expenses. He chose Door #3, starting a business that went on to become one of the larger peer-to-peer networks in the world, and from there to start others, including his most recent: Online.io, a peer-to-peer network built on top…

2 weeks 2 days ago
Madison Bregman, CEO of GirlZ MADISON BREGMAN One of the central challenges of knowing one's market is having an idea about what matters to people at specific ages. Millennials have been beneath the proverbial microscope for some time now as they have graduated from college, entered the workforce and in many cases have started families. The next generation (Generation Z if you follow the Strauss and Howe designations) extends roughly from the early 1990s to the Great Recession starting in late 2008. I…

2 weeks 4 days ago
Marketing in the 21st century means selling long tails to mermaids.(Photo by Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES Marketing has always fascinated me. My first full-time job, many years ago, was working for an advertising agency as a computer graphic artist, and it gave me an understanding of the process of promoting and selling from very small (a car dealership) to very large (a chain of some of the largest malls in the US at the time). Over the years, I revisit the field,…

4 weeks ago
Every decade seems to have its database. During the 1990s, the relational database became the principal data environment, its ease of use and tabular arrangement making it a natural for the growing needs to power the data web. While relational databases remained strong, the 2000s saw the emergence of XML databases and NoSQL, the idea that databases didn't need to be structured in a purely tabular form, began to get hot. During the 2010s, JSON databases gained traction, along with the spectacular rise and…

4 weeks 2 days ago
Stop the Presses! In a recent story, the BBC reported on how Pearsons, one of the largest textbook publishing companies in the world, is getting out of the print business. This is very much like Ford Motor Company announcing recently that they will stop producing cars. While the jury is still out on whether the latter is a good idea, in many respects. The decision by Pearsons has been inevitable for a while. It is a matter of economics. Most people tend to see publishers as being focused primarily on…

1 month 1 week ago
Enterprise data projects can take you on strange journeys. Good management, a sound data strategy, and yes, a cute cat picture can make sure you reach your destination, no matter how far out. I wrapped up a project today, one that had been cut short because the company in question had a change in management and a corresponding shift in spending priorities. While I'm quite proud of what I produced given that, I also have the full expectation that the project will likely not see utilization, because there's…

1 month 3 weeks ago
This is a long article, even by my standards. It represents my thinking about the implications of artificial intelligence on the economy, beyond the normal cheerleading that seems to so frequently accompany the discussion of the topic. Feel free to respond to me at kurt.cagle@gmail.com with questions or comments. Artificial intelligence, the use of computer processes to infer and make decisions on information about the world that is not necessarily explicitly given, has been a hallmark of much of this…

3 months ago
Semantics provides a way of defining the languages that you use for describing your business or organizational processes, for describing domains of knowledge, and for managing processes and resources at a global level. Central to this is the concept of an ontology - a specific data model (or set of interconnected models) that serve to provide the metadata to accomplish those semantics. I'm not, in this article, going to talk about what exactly an ontology is (cf. link to ontology article). For now, it's…

4 months 1 week ago
Benny retired last week. There was a small party for him in the IT department, and everyone chipped in to get him an Apple Watch, the obligatory successor to the Gold Watch of yore. A couple of decades ago, he and his wife would go off on vacation, doing the travel thing for a bit before getting tired of stale camper funk and the Denny’s Over 55 Special Menu, though today, weak retirement portfolios and stealthy consumer inflation make it likely that they will not spend all that much time on vacation…

4 months 3 weeks ago
As semantics and linked data become increasingly mainstream, one question that seems to be asked increasingly has to do with a comparatively recent term, ontology, and how ontologies differ from taxonomies. Understanding this distinction is important in making decisions about metadata management, and as such affects anyone who deals with enterprise-level data. Most people have an intuitive understanding of what a taxonomy is, even if they can't necessarily articulate it formally. The Linnaeus Taxonomy,…

4 months 3 weeks ago
Artificial Intelligence is still (somewhat) of a buzzword, though in practice much of what is likely to be implemented in this current business cycle under that all-encompassing umbrella has been. Visual recognition systems, check. Speech recognition, check. Expert systems, check. Self-driving vehicles, check. Recommendation engines, yup. Business Intelligence tools with a healthy smattering of data science, check, check, check. None of them are quite perfect yet (and arguably some are a long way towards…

4 months 4 weeks ago
For most of us, the word graph brings back memories (not always pleasant) of pencils and rulers and quadrille ruled paper, though a more recent generation may think instead of pie and bar charts produced in Excel from spreadsheets. However, in the last few years, another form of graph, one that goes back to a whole branch of mathematics called graph theory, is beginning to have a huge impact in business, science and the world of artificial intelligence. A graph database is a class of data store that has…

5 months ago
As an ontologist, I'm often asked about the distinctions between taxonomies and ontologies, and whether ontologies are replacing taxonomies. The second question is easy to answer "No." Both taxonomies and ontologies serve vital, and often complementary, roles ... if they are used right. Taxonomy is, to put it simply, a categorization scheme. Most readers should be familiar with a few critical taxonomies such as the Linnaeus Taxonomy used to represent how animals are related to one another, and the Dewey…

5 months ago
The lowly contract, a staple of business transactions everywhere, is about to get a major facelift. The typical role of a contract to date has been largely testimonial: an agreement is made between two parties (identified in painstaking detail) on page one, with stipulations about what is to be delivered at what cost, and the penalties that accrue if one or the other party fails to live up to their part of the agreement. Once the appropriate John Hancocks are signed, a process that usually involves…

6 months 2 weeks ago
  By Kurt Cagle  |  February 06, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES There is a running joke in standards circles: God must love standards. He's made so many of them. If you spend enough time working with standards, ontologies, reference data or information modeling, you will find yourself involved in the process of creating, modifying or defending specific standards. TOGAF, NIEM, XBRL, FIBO, UBL, Dublin Core, Schema.org, W3C, standards are ubiquitous. You would think, given this, that it should be…

6 months 3 weeks ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  January 25, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Sometimes, you can enter into a technology too early. The groundwork for semantics was laid down in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with Tim Berners-Lee's stellar Semantic Web article, debuting in Scientific American in 2004, seen by many as the movement's birth. Yet many early participants in the field of semantics discovered a harsh reality: computer systems were too slow to handle the intense indexing requirements the technology needed,…

6 months 4 weeks ago
This was a presentation given by Kurt Cagle to the Bellevue Big Data Meetup on Jan 19, 2019.

7 months 1 week ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  January 11, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES All things come to an end, especially economic cycles. People who have logged more than a couple of decades in information technology especially are attuned to it, because their jobs and interests both tend to be forward facing. The inability of a software developer or information manager to read the future, at least in a general sense, usually means that they won't last long in the field. As the markets enter into the gyrations of this…

7 months 1 week ago
January 10, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES The engines of IT marketing recently spun out a buzz phrase that's now gaining vogue in many businesses: Digital Transformation. While the exact definition varies depending upon who is currently pushing it, the notion can be summarized roughly as follows: Organizations run on data, and in the twenty-first century, your organization needs to be able to take advantage of all of that data to remain competitive in the marketplace. By transforming your company…

9 months ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  November 14, 2018  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Data modeling does not excite passion within programmers. Your average Java or Python developer probably doesn’t even realize that they are doing it when they write programs, in great part because a data model by itself doesn’t do anything. It simply is. In computer science terms, doing things is the hallmark of imperative (command) oriented languages, while simply being is declarative (assertional or existential) oriented programming.…

10 months 3 weeks ago
In 1991, authors and sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe published Generations (updated in 1997 with The Fourth Turning) where they argued the idea of Generational Theory — the notion that there were distinct cohorts throughout history that shared characteristics and values. These cohorts, going through different phases of their life, determined turnings that identified pivotal periods in history, with cohorts having a cycle of 18-20 years, and turnings taking place over an 80-year cycle. One of…

10 months 3 weeks ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  September 29, 2018  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Your business has its own language. If you sell cars, then you need not only make, model and year, but also MSRP, leather bucket seats and dealer incentives. If you are a dentist, knowing about bicuspids, prostheses and various forms of anesthesia is a must. Media companies have producers and writers, actors and grips, distribution networks and video masters. Business language is code. This language is not only critical to being able…

11 months ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  September 15, 2018  |  CogWorld on FORBES How do you describe a business? What about a person, or an intellectual work? There's an interesting little secret that people in IT likely know, but that doesn't always get to the C-Suite. Programming, at its core, is all about creating models. Sometimes those models are of classes of things, sometimes they better describe processes, but it is rare for a piece of software in your organization to not have some relevance to perhaps a few dozen…