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   Semantic Web "Definition"

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  • From: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@mysterylights.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 12:24:32 +0000

A while ago there were many heated conversations about the Semantic Web on
this list. After discussing it quite a lot again recently in the RDF IG,
many people have tried once again to define it. Here is my best go at a
concise(!) description, based on those discussions:-
The Semantic Web is a vision of the creator of the WWW, Tim Berners-Lee, who
describes the SW as "a web of data that can be processed directly or
indirectly by machines". Further to that, The SW is a self describing
machine processble web of extensible dynamic information; a huge logic based
database of Semantically marked up information, ready for output and
processing. It is, in a way, the next step to the World Wide Web, and not a
new web of its own accord.
Also, the SW has been described thus: "The Semantic Web is a Web that
includes documents, or portions of documents, describing explicit
relationships between things and containing semantic information intended
for automated processing by our machines." -
I agree that these descriptions don't clear up the mystery all that much,
but the fact is theat the fuzziness and ambiguity of the SW has been a
primary feature ever since its inception in 1998. In fact, if we look futher
back in time to the creation of the WWW, we see that the plans for the SW
are very close to the original plans for the WWW. In fact, you could say
that the SW is the ideal aim of the WWW.
There are a few technologies being developed for the Semantic Web: RDF, RDF
Schemas, XML Schemas, and of course XML. To some extent, XSLT comes into
play as well. The SW will be a Web of metadata, so you had better get used
to describing every possible aspect of your data, or get an editor to do it
for you!

Don't forget, I have argued these statements many, many times (mainly off
list) with other RDF IG folk, so these are my best shot at the general
consensus, and not necessarily my own opinions. (i.e. don't shout at me!)
I hope this clears up a little of the previous ambiguity and mystery, but
not all of it; the SW is still only just viable, let alone tactile. I'm
still trying to get to grips with it myself, so
input/opinions/views/statements/rants are most welcome.

Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
The Semantic Web: A Resource - http://xhtml.waptechinfo.com/swr/
WAP Tech Info - http://www.waptechinfo.com/
Mysterylights.com - http://www.mysterylights.com/
"The Internet; is that thing still around?" - Homer J. Simpson


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