KillerSites Blog

An interview with David Siegel about his new book on the semantic Web: Pull

February 27, 2010

David has had a knack for pointing the way, when it comes to the Web. In David’s new book ‘Pull’, he’s now pointing the way when it comes to the Web, business and perhaps even more. In the following interview, I try to get to heart of what Pull is all about.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

An interview with David Siegel about Pull

1. What is ‘pull’ in a nutshell?

It’s the first book of its kind, describing the next 10 years of innovation online, where all industries will transition from a push model to a pull model. In the next few years, your customers will pull information, products, and sevices from you, and you’ll have to set up to be pulled, rather than pushing.

2. Can you give an example of pull from a users perspective?

Look at television. TV shows used to be broadcast at a set time. Now, with DVRs and the web, we can get more of the programming we want, when we want it, on the screen we choose. We’re not there yet, but soon we’ll have instant access to every video just by asking for it. The same is happening with music. What’s fascinating is that the same is happening with financial reporting data, architect’s files, medical data, government data, and every other piece of data you can think of.

3. Can you give an example of pull from a web designers and web developers perspective .. for example, is an RSS feed reader a good example?

What makes this all happen is that the data is pullable. RSS is sort of halfway there. For example, I may know something about real estate that you’ll want to know some day. If I tweet it or blog about it, it’s online but it’s not relevant to you at the moment. When you need it, you’ll want a way to get it, and we don’t really have that yet. Certainly it’s not Google and keyword search.

4. How can web professionals incorporate pull into what they offer?

There is a lot to do. We’re building the open web, as opposed to the silo (database) web, so much of our information will surface onto the web search engines can see. Google has changed a lot in the past 6 months – they have already incorporated some ability to see the semantic web into their pagerank software, their Buzz content will be online, and now Google profiles will be in a format many other software systems can see, called XDI. Microformats are already making big progress – now all LinkedIn profiles are in hResume format, which is royalty free and public domain. It’s a huge move away from the silo approach of Facebook.

5. How can a small business on the Web utilize pull to help their business?

You MUST make your information, products, and services pullable. You really should have an understanding of the semantic web and its impact on your industry. That’s why I wrote my book. I wrote “Creating Killer Web Sites” at a time when people needed to know how to get some HTML up and be found by search engines and give users a good experience. Now I’ve written “Pull” to give businesses a clear view to the future of information. I think it’s an even more important change than putting up web sites.

6. How do you see the pull trend developing? What is the time frame you envision?

I think we’re about 1% of the way to building the semantic web. I think in 10 years, we’ll be 50% of the way there, and much of the useful stuff will be complete. The next ten years (or longer) will be spent getting the late majority to create their data in semantic formats, and that will happen as the tools get better and better. But by then we won’t have Macs or PCs or even iPads and iPhones. We’ll have dumb screens and dumb phones that can see the internet and nothing else. The Internet is the ultimate platform and will eventually take out all the other computing platforms in our lives today.

7. What websites would you recommend for those interested in pull?

You only need one! It’s called – from there, you can read the blog posts, get the latest news, and read all about the basic concepts of the semantic web and pull.

8. The reviews of the book so far have been excellent. Previously, your books were all bestsellers. So is the new book off to a big start?

Unfortunately, it’s been very slow. It got a great review in the Harvard Business Review and elsewhere, but with all the noise about Facebook, Twitter, Google, and the real-time Web, it’s difficult to get people’s attention. Technology people are loving it, and forward-looking business people say it’s a real eye opener. We need all the word of mouth and publicity we can get, so if your readers can tweet, blog, and tell journalists about Pull, I would be very grateful. If anyone has read the book and can give a review at and, I would love that. I hardly have any reviews, even though they are all 5 star.

9. Back in the 90s, you really had an impact on design and people’s careers. Then you gave this domain to me to help continue to educate people about web design while you pursued other projects. What do you want people to know about what you’re doing now and how you plan to change things?

You’ve done a great job with killersites, Stefan. I’m very proud of what you’ve achieved and the people you’ve helped. Now I’m trying to bridge the gap between technology and business, which I think is critical for the semantic web to really get going. If any of your readers is interested in helping, I have a team of four great volunteers and we could use many more. We’re running a news desk and twitter feed I think are very helpful, and we plan to do much more. I believe this is going to fundamentally change the way we work and play, so if you want to get in on the ground floor, come to and help get involved.



If you are looking to get a leg up on the competition, you may want to pick up a copy of Pull.