Friday, May 11, 2012

What is the Semantic Web?



You have probably heard the term at some point, among colleagues, friends, online or maybe even in the tech news. It sounds fancy and maybe even sexy, but reality is that few people know what Semantic Web actually is and what is its purpose.

I’m not an expert on Semantic Web, but I have been part of a few discussions around it and I have a few colleagues that are really into it, so after a bit of reading and research, I wanted to share my understanding and log it here on my tech blog.

According to the W3C, "The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries." Apparently, the term was coined by the very Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of our beloved World Wide Web. The Semantic Web is also defined as “a form to represent semantically structured knowledge”. Check out community if you want to become an active member.

Ok, really fancy, but in simple worlds, what does it mean? Well, it basically means adding metadata to web documents which can be read by machines to create structured data, precisely structured knowledge. The main goal is that computers and automated processes will be able to read this metadata and the search and associate content for us, enabling us to find associations through the content faster and more efficiently.

There are a few hints on technologies that are now arising. Semantic Web might be focused towards the next generation of the Web, but it can also be applies to applications. If you think about it for a moment, when applications are able to share data among themselves without actually knowing the other applications, this could be catalogued as something similar. Windows 8 is achieving something similar through the new Share contracts.

Also, I came across a really interesting project called Silk which is an approach to a way of solving the difficulties of the Semantic Web. Don’t forget to check it out their intro video, which will make things far easier to understand.


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