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semantic web technologies | Semantic Web | Resource Description Framework

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JISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies Semantic Web Technologies Dr Brian Matthews CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory This report was peer reviewed by: Dan Brickley Chair of Semantic Web Interest Group World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Leigh Dodds Engineering Manager Ingenta JISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies Contents Section 1. Introduction: Semantic Web in the news 2. Definitions and background 2.1 The vision 2.2 The programme 2.3 The
JISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies Semantic Web Technologies Dr Brian Matthews CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory This report was peer reviewed by: Dan Brickley Chair of Semantic Web Interest Group World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Leigh Dodds Engineering Manager IngentaJISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies Contents Section Page 1. Introduction: Semantic Web in the news 2 2. Definitions and background 2.1 The vision 2.2 The programme 2.3 The technologies 234 3. Impact on HE and FE 3.1 Information management and discovery tools 3.2 Semantic Web and Digital Libraries 3.3 Supporting interaction 3.4 E-learning 6689 12 4. Supporting research groups in the UK 12 5. The future of the Semantic Web 5.1 Barriers to adoption 5.2 Summary of impact areas 5.3 Timescales 5.4 Conclusions and recommendations 13 13 14 15 References 16 1JISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies 1. INTRODUCTION: THE SEMANTIC WEB IN THE NEWS The Semantic Web initiative of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been active for the last few years and has attracted interest and scepticism in equal measure. The initiative was inspired by the vision of its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, of a more flexible, integrated, automatic and self-adapting Web, providing a richer and more interactive experience for users. The W3C has developed a set of standards and tools to support this vision, and after several years of research and development, these are now usable and could make a real impact. However, people are still asking how they can be used in practical situations to solve real problems. This article discusses the current state of the Semantic Web, and how it may impact on the UK Higher and Further Education sectors over the next few years. It introduces Tim Berners-Lee s initial vision for the Semantic Web, briefly discussing the technology and tools now available to support it, taking a look at the layer-cake diagram of the Semantic Web architecture. The impact of the Semantic Web is likely to be particularly strong in distance learning, libraries and information management, and collaborative research; we shall take a look at each. The UK is particularly strong in these areas, and we present a roundup of the research and development, with an emphasis on the leading UK research teams. 2. SOME DEFINITIONS AND BACKGROUND The term Semantic Web is one which is widely used, often without much care or understanding of its srcins and meaning. However, in general there are three main views of the term which are widely used: thevision, theprogramme and thetechnology. 2.1 The Vision The Semantic Web is inspired by a vision of the current Web which has been in the background since its inception, and which is influenced by earlier work dating back to Vannevar Bush\u2019s idea of the memex machine in the 1940s (based on a universal library, complete with a searchable catalogue) [15]. Tim Berners-Lee srcinally envisioned the WWW as including richer descriptions of documents and links between them [6]. However, in the effort to provide a simple, usable and robust working system, which could be used by everyone out-of-the-box , these ideas were put to one side, and the simpler, more human-mediated Web which we know today resulted. The bigger vision found expression in an article written by Tim Berners-Lee, Jim Hendler and Ora Lassila in Scientific American in May 2001 [8]. In this article they provide a compelling vision of a world where instead of people laboriously trawling through information on the Web and negotiating with each other directly to carry out routine tasks such as scheduling appointments, finding documents and locating services, the Web itself can do the hard work for them. This can be done by providing sufficient contextabout resources on the Web and also providing the tools to use the context so that machines (or software agents \u2013 programs working on behalf of people) can find the right things and make decisions. In the words of the article: 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. This is an ambitious long-term aim: nothing less than imbuing the Web itself withmeaning. That is, providing meaningful ways to describe theresource s available on the Web and, perhaps more importantly, why there arelinks connecting them together [41]. Thus the notion arises ofse mantics being part of the Web, capturing the reason things are there. Once the Web has a mechanism for defining semantics about resources and links, then the possibility arises for automatic processing of the Web by software agents, rather than mediation by people. In the same article, the Semantic Web is defined as: 2JISC Technology and Standards Watch Semantic Web Technologies '…an extension of the current Web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.' A simple example used to motivate the Semantic Web is the need to discover documents on the Web, not only from their textual content, as conventional search engines do, but also from ade script ion. The problem is exemplified by the frustration in finding articles written by a particular author, rather than those which include the author’s name. In response to the query 'Tim Berners-Lee' a search engine will respond with all the papers including that phrase, some of which will be by Tim Berners-Lee, but most of which will cite or refer to him – as this paper does. The Semantic Web can allow each document on the Web to be annotated stating who its author was, when it was created, and what content it has; then only those with the appropriate author will be returned. To add these descriptions or annotations, it is necessary to state what this additional description, sometimes known as 'metadata', should be, and how it should be interpreted. How this is done is the subject of the programme set out in the next section. 2.2 The Programme It was not until the Semantic Web Roadmap [7] appeared, setting out a plan for re-engineering the Web to achieve this vision, that the Semantic Web became a programme. The Semantic Web is an initiative of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [75], the international organisation which sets standards for the technologies which underlie the World-Wide Web. The W3C was set up when it became clear that there was a danger of the Web breaking apart through the pressure of competing commercial interests, and it is now a major forum providing information infrastructure between people and organisations in the world. Headed by Tim Berners-Lee, the W3C seeks to maintain the interoperability and universality of the Web via the setting of open standards to which Web tools should conform – independent of particular interests. It is funded by member subscription and there are some 400 members world wide. Members include the leading commercial companies in the field as well as many not-for-profit organisations and universities. The Semantic Web initiative was started as the Web Metadata Working Group in 1998, and subsequently became the Semantic Web Activity [63] which has taken the view that the Semantic Web: '… provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by W3C with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework, which integrates a variety of applications using XML for syntax and URIs for naming.' Early work produced two influential proposals: the Resource Description Framework Model and Syntax Specification [42], and the Resource Description Framework Schema Specification [11]. However, at that stage activity was on a small scale and there was confusion on its scope and usefulness, so work returned to a more exploratory phase. The DAML programme, a DARPA- sponsored initiative in the US, was set up and proposed several influential approaches to the problems posed by the Semantic Web [20]. Within the last two to three years, work has moved on within W3C with increased vigour. Two major working groups of the W3C, the RDF Core Working Group [59] and the Web Ontology Working Group [76] have produced major sets of recommendations. Exploratory activities within W3C have also been extensive under the Semantic Web Advanced Development programme [64], and the Semantic Web Advanced Development in Europe project [65], sponsored by the European Commission. The work is continuing within two recently constituted groups. The Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group [67] seeks to support and extend the practical application of the Semantic Web within a number of fields, providing sample tools and general descriptive vocabularies in key areas. The RDF Data Access Working Group [60] is developing languages for querying and processing semantic annotations across the Web. Initial work is taking place on the reasoning tools, which will greatly enhance the level of power of Semantic Web agents. 3
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