Tim Finin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thu, 08 May 2003 19:11:59 -0400
Berners-Lee: Integrate Web services and Semantic Web
By Rich Seeley, May 7, 2003
The history of computing is the history of finding ways to link data
to programs, and the Semantic Web is the next step in that evolution,
Tim Berners-Lee told attendees at the Gartner Web Services and
Application Integration conference in Los Angeles this week.
What is the difference between the Semantic Web and all the data-based
applications that have preceded it? The Semantic Web doesn't follow a
document model; instead, it models real-world things, said the
director of the W3C and inventor of the World Wide Web.
As defined by the W3C, "The Semantic Web is the representation of data
on the World Wide Web. 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 (RDF),
which integrates a variety of applications using XML for syntax and
URIs for naming."
"The Semantic Web models real things not documents, explained
Berners-Lee. "It models words not software objects." Because
information is described semantically, it will be far more re-useable
as applications change or are discontinued. "Data about real things
will live longer than the programs," he said.
For example, where a current motor vehicle application would look for
data such as a vehicle identification number, a Semantic Web
application will understand what a car is, that a 1953 DeSoto is a car
and that a specific car has a unique number to identify it. It will
further understand that a human person is a driver with a driver's
license and an ownership relationship with that specific DeSoto.
With the Semantic Web, Web services applications will be smarter and
more comprehensive, said Berners-Lee, explaining how the two XML
technologies will integrate.
Modeling real-world objects and not documents in the format of the
Semantic Web, a motor vehicle Web services application will easily
find the link between car and driver. It could also link to a photo of
the driver, and the driver's license number, a photo of the car and
the license plate and VIN, and the driver's address and the address
where the car is registered. Describing what a car is and what a
driver is, and what a photo is and how numbers are associated to them,
an application could pull all these together to present a motor
vehicles clerk with a complete view of a car and its owner, including
The Semantic Web will advance the relational database model and
overturn old ways of organizing information, Berners-Lee said. Rather
than listing information in tree structures, it will create a Web
based on the relationships of people, places and things as they exist
in the real world.
He expressed the belief that Semantic Web technology will advance the
information revolution he began with the World Wide Web changing
everything from how users set up their online address books to how
they pay their taxes. "The whole thing was designed to be evolvable,"
he said of the technologies based on XML.
To assure his audience that the technology is ready for practical
uses, Berners-Lee said he did his income taxes this year, not with one
of the off-the-shelf financial packages, but with a Semantic Web model
of Form 1040.
Summing up how the Semantic Web will transform computing and social
interactions, Berners-Lee told his audience "Your life is a Web. Your
data is a Web."
More information on the Semantic Web is available at
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