Definition Edit

The semantic web (referred to as Web 3.0) is

a concept of the Web where machines are able to understand and interpret web resources for people.[1]
a series of W3C specifications that provides a framework to describe information about data, known as metadata. It involves a vision of a machine-readable web, where intelligent agents would be capable of understanding data presented online by interpreting the accompanying metadata.[2]
an extension of the current web that provides an easier way to find, share, reuse, and combine information. It is based on machine-readable information and builds on XML technology's capability to define customized tagging schemes and RDF's flexible approach to representing data.[3]

Overview Edit

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has defined the semantic web as a web that allows software agents to carry out sophisticated tasks for users, making meaningful connections between bits of information so that “computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.”

Berners‐Lee and co‐authors wrote in Scientific American in 2001 that they see a future when machines can understand data and make meaningful connections between related items, all in the service of helping people get the material they want and complete the tasks that matter to them:

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. . . . The semantic web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well‐defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation. . . . To date, the Web has developed most rapidly as a medium of documents for people rather than for data and information that can be processed automatically. The semantic web aims to make up for this. . . . The real power of the semantic web will be realized when people create many programs that collect Web content from diverse sources, process the information and exchange the results with other programs.

In the article, Berners‐Lee and co‐authors James Handler and Ora Lassila sketched out a scenario of how the semantic web would work and highlighted the keywords which indicate terms whose semantics, or meaning, were defined for the computer "agent" through the Semantic Web:

The entertainment system was belting out the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" when the phone rang. When Pete answered, his phone turned the sound down by sending a message to all the other local devices that had a volume control. His sister, Lucy, was on the line from the doctor's office: "Mom needs to see a specialist and then has to have a series of physical therapy sessions. Biweekly or something. I'm going to have my agent set up the appointments." Pete immediately agreed to share the chauffeuring.

At the doctor's office, Lucy instructed her Semantic Web agent through her handheld Web browser. The agent promptly retrieved information about Mom's prescribed treatment from the doctor's agent, looked up several lists of providers, and checked for the ones in‐plan [eligible for insurance coverage] for Mom's insurance within a 20‐mile radius of her home and with a rating of excellent or very good on trusted rating services. It then began trying to find a match between available appointment times (supplied by the agents of individual providers through their Web sites) and Pete's and Lucy's busy schedules.

In a few minutes the agent presented them with a plan. Pete didn't like it — University Hospital was all the way across town from Mom's place, and he’d be driving back in the middle of rush hour. He set his own agent to redo the search with stricter preferences about location and time. Lucy’s agent, having complete trust in Pete's agent in the context of the present task, automatically assisted by supplying access certificates and shortcuts to the data it had already sorted through. Almost instantly the new plan was presented: a much closer clinic and earlier times — but there were two warning notes. First, Pete would have to reschedule a couple of his less important appointments. He checked what they were — not a problem. The other was something about the insurance company’s list failing to include this provider under physical therapists: "Service type and insurance plan status securely verified by other means," the agent reassured him. "(Details?)"

Lucy registered her assent at about the same moment Pete was muttering, "Spare me the details,” and it was all set." (Of course, Pete couldn't resist the details and later that night had his agent explain how it had found that provider even though it wasn't on the proper list.)

References Edit

  1. CETIS Reference (Jan. 2, 2004) (full-text).
  2. Government 2.0 Taskforce, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0, App. C: Glossary (full-text).
  3. ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation, Glossary, App. B, at 229.

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