A Semantic Web Primer

google_semwebby Angela Guess

Mark Graham recently wrote in Slate, “In the early days of the Web, content was stuck within its containers. Early Web pages built in HTML defined both their own content and their appearance. But things started to change after Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, along with two colleagues, James Hendler and Ora Lassila, in 2001, outlined a vision for the creation of a Semantic Web. This would be a ‘Web of data’ to replace the ‘Web of documents’ that had been the result of the Web’s original design. The subsequent adoption of a range of standards, formats, languages, and protocols such as XML, OWL, and RDF has made it more straightforward to disentangle form and content, allowing for much easier data exchange. Content could now be easily separated from its containers—and as a result, the Web could become machine-readable instead of just human-readable.”

Graham goes on, “This has all begun to be put into practice through a few important platforms. The Wikimedia Foundation, for instance, has built a project called Wikidata that aims to turn a lot of the information from Wikipedia into linked, structured, data. When new statistics for the population of Nairobi, or any other city, are released, these can be edited into Wikidata and then propagated to many of the hundreds of versions of Wikipedia, instead of humans slowly, manually, editing each of those versions. Google is trying to go a step further by building what they call a Knowledge Graph: a knowledge base that can gather information from Wikidata, Wikipedia, Freebase (another user-generated knowledge base), and a range of other sources. On releasing it in 2012, Google described the system as ‘a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do’.”

Read more here.

photo credit: Flickr

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