W3C and "Semantic Web"

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Lanero Reconocido
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8 Jul 2007
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Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, twenty years ago this month.

The first ever web server at the CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is where it all began in March 1989. The physicist, Tim Berners-Lee, wrote a proposal for "Information Management" showing how information could be transferred easily over the Internet by using hypertext, the now familiar point-and-click system of navigating through information.

Berners-Lee is now director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which maintains standards for the Web and continues to refine its design. Recently he has envisioned a "Semantic Web" -- an evolved version of the same system that recognizes the meaning of the information it carries.

As the Web grows into a even richer storehouse of human knowledge, we need ever more powerful tools to search and interpret the tremendous amount of available data; this applies to Intranets as well as the global Web (Internet). Two models have emerged to help manage this data on a global scale: the Semantic Web and Web services.

The "Semantic Web" provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is an extension of the current Web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation. The Semantic Web is data-centric.

"Web Services" provide a standard means of interoperating between different software applications, running on a variety of platforms and/or frameworks. Web Services are message-centric.

Both models are important to networked and distributed systems, so W3C is working to ensure their proper integration, both together and with the existing Web infrastructure. For instance, Web Services benefit from the ability to share common vocabularies, unambiguous names, and a common data model, all of which are readily expressed with Semantic Web technologies.

Berners-Lee's vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.

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 has described the Semantic Web as a component of Web 3.0

Tim Berners-Lee calls the resulting network of "Linked Data" the "Giant Global Graph", in contrast to the HTML-based World Wide Web.

An example of a tag that would be used in a Non-Semantic Web Page:

PHP:
<item>cat</item>

Encoding similar information in a semantic web page might look like this:

PHP:
<item rdf:about="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Cat">Cat</item>
 
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