As I delve into the Solid protocol, I’ve come across numerous ontologies that are relevant to the Semantic Web. Do I need to learn about the Semantic Web, or should I at least have an overview or a basic understanding of it in order to grasp Solid thoroughly and understand its purpose?
It would make things easier to grasp how a solid resource server constructs its resources using semantic data like Turtle or RDF. It would also make it easier to understand some of the queries and underlying technologies, but it doesn’t need to be terribly deep to start with. Look at some RDF and knowledge graph primers and you will probably be fine.
In the future, this may change though. Right now, the SOLID servers I am aware of use a file-system as a backend. This fulfills the protocol, but has some issues with semantic web interaction. Once there is a resource server implementation which uses data registries and/or knowledge graphs for storage, then more information may be necessary to work with it.
It is possible to learn about and build Solid apps without knowing the Semantic Web by using abstraction layers such as GitHub - o-development/ldo-solid-react: A devtool library for using LDO with react and Solid. However, the semantic web is a) critical to implementing interoperability and b) powerful and fun. It presents a much more flexible way to organize information than traditional databases. Instead of a set structure of boxes, it is a flexible and expandable language. It supports interconnections between information spaces, people, and communities in ways that cross-cut any particular implementation. Additionally, the semantic web augements human as opposed to machine intelligence. Humans create the meanings, machines learn to follow the meanings.
So, while it’s posssible to do Solid without the semantic web, I would say it is necessary to fully grasp Solid’s purpose. Probably the quickest way to jump into the semantic web is to learn turtle - it’s very simple but hugely expandable. Feel free to ask here or in one of the matrix chatrooms if you encounter questions about either turtle or the semantic web in general.