From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily. It derives from W3C director Tim Berners-Lee‘s vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.
At its core, the semantic web is comprised of a philosophy, a set of design principles, collaborative working groups, and a variety of enabling technologies. Some elements of the semantic web are expressed as prospective future possibilities that have yet to be implemented or realized. Other elements of the semantic web are expressed in formal specifications. Some of these include Resource Description Framework (RDF), a variety of data interchange formats (e.g. RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, N-Triples), and notations such as RDF Schema (RDFS) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), all of which are intended to provide a formal description of concepts, terms, and relationships within a given knowledge domain.
Humans are capable of using the Web to carry out tasks such as finding the Finnish word for “car,” to reserve a library book, or to search for the cheapest DVD and buy it. However, a computer cannot accomplish the same tasks without human direction because web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of information that is understandable by computers, so that they can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, sharing and combining information on the web.
For example, a computer might be instructed to list the prices of flat screen HDTVs larger than 40 inches (1,000 mm) with 1080p resolution at shops in the nearest town that are open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings. Today, this task requires search engines that are individually tailored to every website being searched. The semantic web provides a common standard (RDF) for websites to publish the relevant information in a more readily machine-processable and integratable form.
Tim Berners-Lee originally expressed the vision of the semantic web as follows:
|“||I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.||”|
—Tim Berners-Lee, 1999
Semantic publishing will benefit greatly from the semantic web. In particular, the semantic web is expected to revolutionize scientific publishing, such as real-time publishing and sharing of experimental data on the Internet. This simple but radical idea is now being explored by W3C HCLS group’s Scientific Publishing Task Force.
Tim Berners-Lee has further stated:
|“||People keep asking what Web 3.0 is. I think maybe when you’ve got an overlay of scalable vector graphics – everything rippling and folding and looking misty – on Web 2.0 and access to a semantic Web integrated across a huge space of data, you’ll have access to an unbelievable data resource.||”|
 Relationship to the Hypertext Web
Many files on a typical computer can be loosely divided into documents and data. Documents, like mail messages, reports and brochures, are read by humans. Data, like calendars, addressbooks, playlists and spreadsheets, are presented using an application program which lets them be viewed, searched and combined in many ways.
Currently, the World Wide Web is based mainly on documents written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), a markup convention that is used for coding a body of text interspersed with multimedia objects such as images and interactive forms. Metadata tags, for example
<meta name="keywords" content="computing, computer studies, computer"><meta name="description" content="xxxx... "><meta name="author" content="xxxx"> provide a method by which computers can catagorise the content of web pages.
The semantic web takes the concept further; it involves publishing the data in a language, Resource Description Framework (RDF), specifically for data, so that it can be categorized as human perception and be “understood” by computers. So the data are not just stored but filed and well handled.
HTML describes documents and the links between them. RDF, by contrast, describes arbitrary things such as people, meetings, or airplane parts.
For example, with HTML and a tool to render it (perhaps Web browser software, perhaps another user agent), one can create and present a page that lists items for sale. The HTML of this catalog page can make simple, document-level assertions such as “this document’s title is ‘Widget Superstore'”. But there is no capability within the HTML itself to assert unambiguously that, for example, item number X586172 is an Acme Gizmo with a retail price of €199, or that it is a consumer product. Rather, HTML can only say that the span of text “X586172” is something that should be positioned near “Acme Gizmo” and “€ 199”, etc. There is no way to say “this is a catalog” or even to establish that “Acme Gizmo” is a kind of title or that “€ 199” is a price. There is also no way to express that these pieces of information are bound together in describing a discrete item, distinct from other items perhaps listed on the page.
 Descriptive and extensible
The semantic web addresses this shortcoming, using the descriptive technologies Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL), and the data-centric, customizable Extensible Markup Language (XML). These technologies are combined in order to provide descriptions that supplement or replace the content of Web documents. Thus, content may manifest as descriptive data stored in Web-accessible databases, or as markup within documents (particularly, in Extensible HTML (XHTML) interspersed with XML, or, more often, purely in XML, with layout/rendering cues stored separately). The machine-readable descriptions enable content managers to add meaning to the content, i.e. to describe the structure of the knowledge we have about that content. In this way, a machine can process knowledge itself, instead of text, using processes similar to human deductive reasoning and inference, thereby obtaining more meaningful results and facilitating automated information gathering and research by computers.
 Skeptical reactions
 Practical feasibility
Some critics question the basic feasibility of a complete or even partial fulfillment of the semantic web. Some develop their critique from the perspective of human behavior and personal preferences, which ostensibly diminish the likelihood of its fulfillment (see e.g., metacrap). Other commentators object that there are limitations that stem from the current state of software engineering itself. (see e.g., Leaky abstraction).
Where semantic web technologies have found a greater degree of practical adoption, it has tended to be among core specialized communities and organizations for intra company projects. The practical constraints toward adoption have appeared less challenging where domain and scope is more limited than that of the general public and the world wide web.
 An unrealized idea
The original 2001 Scientific American article (from Berners-Lee) described an expected evolution of the existing Web to a Semantic Web. Such an evolution has yet to occur. Indeed, a more recent article from Berners-Lee and colleagues stated that: “This simple idea, however, remains largely unrealized.”  Nonetheless, the recognized authorities in the Semantic Web keep asserting the feasibility of the original idea, and sometimes they even claim that many of the components of the initial vision have already been deployed.
 Censorship and privacy
Enthusiasm about the semantic web could be tempered by concerns regarding censorship and privacy. For instance, text-analyzing techniques can now be easily bypassed by using other words, metaphors for instance, or by using images in place of words. An advanced implementation of the semantic web would make it much easier for governments to control the viewing and creation of online information, as this information would be much easier for an automated content-blocking machine to understand. In addition, the issue has also been raised that, with the use of FOAF files and geo location meta-data, there would be very little anonymity associated with the authorship of articles on things such as a personal blog.
 Doubling output formats
Another criticism of the semantic web is that it would be much more time-consuming to create and publish content because there would need to be two formats for one piece of data: one for human viewing and one for machines. However, many web applications in development are addressing this issue by creating a machine-readable format upon the publishing of data or the request of a machine for such data. The development of microformats has been one reaction to this kind of criticism.
Specifications such as eRDF and RDFa allow arbitrary RDF data to be embedded in HTML pages. The GRDDL (Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Language) mechanism allows existing material (including microformats) to be automatically interpreted as RDF, so publishers only need to use a single format, such as HTML.
 XML, XML Schema, RDF, OWL, SPARQL
The semantic web comprises the standards and tools of XML, XML Schema, RDF, RDF Schema and OWL. The OWL Web Ontology Language Overview describes the function and relationship of each of these components of the semantic web:
- XML provides an elemental syntax for content structure within documents, yet associates no semantics with the meaning of the content contained within.
- XML Schema is a language for providing and restricting the structure and content of elements contained within XML documents.
- RDF is a simple language for expressing data models, which refer to objects (“resources“) and their relationships. An RDF-based model can be represented in XML syntax.
- RDF Schema is a vocabulary for describing properties and classes of RDF-based resources, with semantics for generalized-hierarchies of such properties and classes.
- OWL adds more vocabulary for describing properties and classes: among others, relations between classes (e.g. disjointness), cardinality (e.g. “exactly one”), equality, richer typing of properties, characteristics of properties (e.g. symmetry), and enumerated classes.
- SPARQL is a protocol and query language for semantic web data sources.
Current ongoing standardizations include:
- Rule Interchange Format (RIF) as the Rule Layer of the Semantic web stack
- servers which expose existing data systems using the RDF and SPARQL standards. Many converters to RDF exist from different applications. Relational databases are an important source. The semantic web server attaches to the existing system without affecting its operation.
- documents “marked up” with semantic information (an extension of the HTML <meta> tags used in today’s Web pages to supply information for Web search engines using web crawlers). This could be machine-understandable information about the human-understandable content of the document (such as the creator, title, description, etc., of the document) or it could be purely metadata representing a set of facts (such as resources and services elsewhere in the site). (Note that anything that can be identified with a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) can be described, so the semantic web can reason about animals, people, places, ideas, etc.) Semantic markup is often generated automatically, rather than manually.
- common metadata vocabularies (ontologies) and maps between vocabularies that allow document creators to know how to mark up their documents so that agents can use the information in the supplied metadata (so that Author in the sense of ‘the Author of the page’ won’t be confused with Author in the sense of a book that is the subject of a book review).
- automated agents to perform tasks for users of the semantic web using this data
- web-based services (often with agents of their own) to supply information specifically to agents (for example, a Trust service that an agent could ask if some online store has a history of poor service or spamming).
The Neurocommons is an open RDF database developed by Science Commons. It was compiled from major life sciences databases with a focus on neuroscience. It is accessible via a web-based front end using the SPARQL query language at its original location trieu and at the DERI mirror location.
A popular application of the semantic web is Friend of a Friend (or FoaF), which describes relationships among people and other agents in terms of RDF.
The SIOC Project – Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities provides a vocabulary of terms and relationships that model web data spaces. Examples of such data spaces include, among others: discussion forums, weblogs, blogrolls / feed subscriptions, mailing lists, shared bookmarks, image galleries.
Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 Linking Open Data
The Linking Open Data project is a community lead effort to create openly accessible, and interlinked, RDF Data on the Web. The data in question takes the form of RDF Data Sets drawn from a broad collection of data sources. There is a focus on the Linked Data style of publishing RDF on the Web.
A semantic web Browser is a form of Web User Agent that expressly requests RDF data from Web Servers using the best practice known as “Content Negotiation”. These tools provide a user interface that enables data-link oriented navigation of RDF data by dereferencing the data links (URIs) in the RDF Data Sets returned by Web Servers.
Examples of semantic web browsers include:
 Notification Services
 Semantic Web Ping Service
The Semantic Web Ping Service is a notification service for the semantic web that tracks the creation and modification of RDF based data sources on the Web. It provides Web Services for loosely coupled monitoring of RDF data. In addition, it provides a breakdown of RDF data sources tracked by vocabulary that includes: SIOC, FOAF, DOAP, RDFS, and OWL.
 Piggy Bank
Another freely downloadable tool is the plug-in to Firefox, Piggy Bank. Piggy Bank works by extracting or translating web scripts into RDF information and storing this information on the user’s computer. This information can then be retrieved independently of the original context and used in other contexts, for example by using Google Maps to display information. Piggy Bank works with a new service, Semantic Bank, which combines the idea of tagging information with the new web languages. Piggy Bank was developed by the Simile Project, which also provides RDFizers, tools that can be used to translate specific types of information, for example weather reports for US zip codes, into RDF. Efforts like these could ease a potentially troublesome transition between the web of today and its semantic successor.
 See also
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- Concepts and methodologies
- Related articles
- Companies and applications
- Cardoso, J. (March 2007). Semantic Web Services: Theory, Tools and Applications. Idea Group.. ISBN 978-1-59904-045-5.
- Cardoso, J., Sheth, Amit (2006). Semantic Web Services, Processes and Applications. Springer. ISBN 0-38730239-5.
- Michael C. Daconta, Leo J. Obrst, Kevin T. Smith (30 May 2003). The Semantic Web: A Guide to the Future of XML, Web Services, and Knowledge Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-43257-1.
- Dieter Fensel, Wolfgang Wahlster, Henry Lieberman, James Hendler (15 November 2002). Spinning the Semantic Web: Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-06232-1.
- Jane Greenberg, Eva Mendez (Eds.) (2007). Knitting the Semantic Web. New York: The Haworth Information Press. ISBN 0-7890-3591-2.
- Lee W. Lacy (1 January 2005). OWL: Representing Information Using the Web Ontology Language. Trafford Press. ISBN 1-412-03448-5.
- Steffen Staab, Rudi Studer (January 2004). Handbook on Ontologies. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. ISBN 3-540-40834-7.
- (17 January 2003) in Vladimir Geroimenko, Chaomei Chen (Eds.): Visualizing the Semantic Web. Springer Verlag. ISBN 1-85233-576-9.
- John Davies, Dieter Fensel, Frank van Harmelen (21 January 2003). Towards the Semantic Web: Ontology-Driven Knowledge Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-84867-7.
- Grigoris Antoniou, Frank van Harmelen (1 April 2004). A Semantic Web Primer. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-01210-3.
- Jeffrey T. Pollock, Ralph Hodgson (21 July 2004). Adaptive Information: Improving Business Through Semantic Interoperability, Grid Computing, and Enterprise Integration. ISBN 0-471-48854-2.
- Christopher Walton (12 October 2006). Agency and the Semantic Web. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929248-6.
- ^ http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/SW-FAQ#What1
- ^ http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Activity
- ^ http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/
- ^ http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/SW-FAQ#What3
- ^ http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/#spec
- ^ Berners-Lee, Tim; Fischetti, Mark (1999). Weaving the Web. HarperSanFrancisco, chapter 12. ISBN 9780062515872.
- ^ Victoria Shannon (2006–06-26). A ‘more revolutionary’ Web. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved on 2006–05-24.
- ^ a b Ivan Herman (2007). State of the Semantic Web. Semantic Days 2007. Retrieved on 2007–07-26.
- ^ Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee (2006). The Semantic Web Revisited. IEEE Intelligent Systems. Retrieved on 2007–04-13.
 External links
- Semantic Discovery Systems OWL/SPARQL over all Distributed, Heterogeneous Data Sources & Web Services
- Making Sense of the Semantic Web A Powerpoint presentation explaining the Semantic Web, by Nova Spivack, November, 2007
- Heather Green A Web That Thinks Like You, Businessweek.com, July 9, 2007
- Michael Copeland Weaving the Semantic Web, Business2.com, July 3, 2007
- Semantic Focus
- Minding the Planet: The Meaning and Future of the Semantic Web
- The Third Generation Web is Coming
- Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?
- The Semantic Web Scientific American, May 2001, the defining article by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila
- The Semantic Web Revisited by Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Berners-Lee and Wendy Hall, IEEE Intelligent Systems 21(3) pp. 96-101, May/June 2006
- Semantic Web Activity at the World Wide Web Consortium (splash page)
- Searching semantic Documents in Internet
- Recuperación y organización de la información(Spanish)
- Web 3.0 = Semantic Web?
- Mashups in the Middle – Bridging the Gap to the Semantic Web
- Nooron – a distributed ecosystem of evolving knowledge, logic and presentation
- What is Semantic Web Life Science?
- Semantic Web FAQ (maintained by the W3C SWEO group)
- Semantic Web Cases Studies and Use Cases (maintained by the W3C SWEO group)
- Demonstration of the Semantic Web (maintained by Cortex Intelligence)
- Demonstration of the Semantic Web components (maintained by Ambient Webs LLC)
- Semantic Technology News Includes an actively-maintained
- list of real-world semantic web case studies.
- Semantic Web Development Tools at ESW Wiki
- This Week’s Semantic Web, a weekly posting by Danny Ayers, hosted by Talis, since 2007-07-15