Machine-understandable Web service descriptions
There is an intriguing workshop at the next World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2005) entitled WEB SERVICE SEMANTICS: TOWARDS DYNAMIC BUSINESS INTEGRATION which concerns itself with how to do a much more robust level of integration of semantic web services (SWS). They describe the workshop as:
The description of Web services in a machine-understandable fashion is expected to have a great impact in the areas of e-Commerce and Enterprise Application Integration, as it can enable dynamic and scalable cooperation between independently developed systems and organisations. These potential benefits have led to the establishment of an important class of research activities, both in industry and academia, aimed at the practical deployment of declarative, semantically rich service and process descriptions and their use across the Web service lifecycle.This research, which draws on a variety of fields such as knowledge representation, automated software engineering, process modeling, workflow, and software agents, is happening under several headings, including Semantic Web services (SWS), Grid services and Semantic Grid services, and (some aspects of) Service-Oriented Computing. For ease of reference, in this call we refer to this general area of work as Semantic Web services (SWS). We note that here, "Semantic Web" does not denote any particular set of standards, although much work in this area does build on products of the Semantic Web activity at W3C. In addition, many SWS efforts are aligned with rapidly developing commercial Web service standards such as WSDL and UDDI.
I find this particularly intriguing since one of my pet beefs is that there is too much hand-coded logic (code) floating around that almost assures that software will be buggy, poorly integrated, inflexible, and destined to perform poorly. Machine-understandable descriptions are clearly an important paradigm for the design of future software system architectures.
For more details, see the workshop web site.