This article is a gentle introduction to to exploring and understanding the Semantic Web. At the end of the article we have a Google slide, presenting you the ‘What is the Semantic Web’ in a more graphical way to guide you through the information.
To understand the Semantic Web we need to look back at Web1.0, Web2.0 and knowing the difference between the Internet and the web (World Wide Web). The internet and the web is not synonymous both are two separate but related thing. Internet is simply a network of networks where millions of computer are globally connected forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer. World Wide Web is a way of accessing information over the medium of the internet by displaying web pages on a browser, information are connected by hyperlinks, can contains text, graphics, audio, video.
Web1.0 the Informational or syntactic web
Web1.0 is the first generation of the web, also known as informational web. User only can read and share information over web pages. Information is accessed via (keyword based) search and browseBrowser tools render information for human consumption. The inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee was an English developer who fabricated the World Wide Web in March 1989 (amongst others). With the help of Robert Cailliau, and a young student staff at CERN, he implemented his invention in 1990, with the first successful communication between a client and server via the Internet on December 25, 1990.
His vision of the Web was much more ambitious than the reality of the existing (syntactic) Web:
- I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analysing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers
- Day-to-day processes of business, education, research and daily activities will be handled by machines talking to machines.
- The Semantic Web will bring structure to the meaningful content of Web pages, creating an environment where software agents roaming from page to page can readily carry out sophisticated tasks for users
Web2.0 the read-write web or social web
Web2.0 is known as read-write web, it is basically a new way to use existing internet technologies. In web2.0 the web user cannot only read the content but also write, modify and update the content online, it supports collaboration and help to gather collective intelligence.
Web2.0 as the next generation of networking services evolved and transferred the network in to a platform by supporting an new idea to exchanges as well as share the content through applications such as wiki, web blogs, widgets and mashups etc.
Web3.0 the Semantic Web
It is more difficult to answer the question ‘what is web3.0?’, different Internet experts have different approaches and opinions to the future web. Major IT experts consider web3.0 as a semantic web and personalisation. According to Conrad Wolfram web3.0 is where computer will generating and thinking new information rather than humans.
Google CEO, Eric Schmidt says web3.o will be ‘applications which are pieced together – relatively small,the data are in the cloud and it can be run on any device(pc or mobile), very fast, very customisable and distributed virally(social network, email, etc)’.
The Semantic Web or Web3.0, the word semantic stands for the meaning of. The semantic of something is the meaning of something. The Semantic Web is a web that is able to describe things in a way that computers can understand.
- The Beatles was a popular band from Liverpool.
- John Lennon was a member of the Beatles.
- The record “Hey Jude” was recorded by the Beatles.
Sentences like these can be understood by people. But how can they be understood by computers? Statements are built with syntax rules. The syntax of a language defines the rules for building the language statements. But how can syntax become semantic? This is what the Semantic Web is all about. Describing things in a way that computers applications can understand. The Semantic Web is not about links between web pages. The Semantic Web describes the relationships between things (like A is a part of B and Y is a member of Z) and the properties of things (like size, weight, age, and price).
Social networking sites contribute to the semantic web as they provide for fuller tagging of web resources by individuals and groups.
Examples: Del.icio.us for sharing bookmarks and Flickr for sharing photographs
-> This social semantic web uses social interactions on the web to create more complete knowledge, integrating components from multiple contributors.
It provides a user driven approach to semantic web development.
What is the Semantic Web
A evolving extension of the World Wide Web (web2.0), with the aim to
- make computers „understand“ the data they store
- allow them to reason about information
- allow them to share information across different systems
The semantic web converts web resources from being readable and displayable by computers to being understandable by computers.
It adds more structured metadata to web pages and shares this metadata between multiple applications and agents.
It enables computers to understand a web page in the way a human does, so that they can find, share and integrate information on the web.
It depends on two pillars: metadata and taxonomies.
Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the Semantic Web or Web 3.0 is to transform the World Wide Web into an intelligent web system of structured, linked data which can be queried and inferred as a whole by the computers themselves. This grand vision of the web is materialising many innovative use of the web.
My next article is about the Cloud Computing & Semantic Web Technology and understanding how they can work together.