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Some of you have already heard about W3C’s Semantic Web framework. Tim-Berners Lee, the inventor of the Web,  presented roadmap for Semantic Web in 1998.

The framework can be summarized as:

“The Semantic Web is a web of data.”

“The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from diverse sources, where on the original Web mainly concentrated on the interchange of documents. It is also about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects.”

Web today is about sharing documents, Semantic Web is about sharing and reusing data. If it gets the momentum, it will break the boundaries between applications, free the data from their silos. W3C provides a concrete example: my calendar application could – if I wanted – display my bank transactions from this week, and also the photos I’ve taken, day by day.

Some of the tools that the Semantic Web will be powered by are RDF, a knowledge modeling language, and SPARQL, a query language for RDF.

RDF is a method of describing data and resources formally so that they become accessible and understandable for software. Here‘s a primer for it. Berners-Lee’s view is that the future lies in “programming at the RDF level”.  

Below is an example of a SPARQL query. It displays title and price for books that are priced below 30.5. 

PREFIX dc: <;
PREFIX ns: <;
SELECT ?title ?price
WHERE { ?x ns:price ?price .
  FILTER (?price < 30.5) .
  ?x dc:title ?title . }

On IBM’s developerWorks interview (28.7.2006), Berners-Lee gives his view on the status of Semantic Web:

“I hope the Semantic Web will take off so that the data basically all the data which is out there which you have access to, to the Web pages, will now be available as data so you can treat it as data. There will be lots of very exciting applications built on that.  And we’re starting to see that now, but it really is, you know, we’re seriously into the exponential growth of the Semantic Web right now, and that’s very exciting.”

Some questions arise in my mind:

Is the original Web – this Web here you’re using now – non-semantic?

Where’s the boundary between data and a document? If Semantic Web uses RDF documents, will it eventually fall to the same “trap” with the original Web?    

Considering the massive amount of data in the Web today, could it be somehow utilized and reused in building the Semantic Web?   

Is there a demo somewhere showing the power of Semantic Web?

Do we really need another query language with its own syntax – why not expand SQL or use English? Could this query be enough:

book title, book price, book price < 30.5


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