The Semantic Web: History, Applications and Future Possibilities

The Semantic Web: History, Applications and Future Possibilities

Darrell Gunter (Gunter Media Group, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-308-9.ch017
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The Semantic Web provides a common structure that allows data to be shared and reused across a variety of applications. The history and terminology of the Semantic Web, examples of STM achievements with semantics, an examination of semantic technology companies, and future possibilities for reference publishers are discussed and examined in this chapter. Cooperation between publishers will be imperative if we are to fully benefit from the advantages of the semantic technology.
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The Semantic Web was conceived by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, in his landmark article “The Semantic Web” (Berners-Lee, 2001). Lee explored in the article all of the possibilities that the Semantic Web would be able to provide. While the Semantic Web advances have been painstakingly slow compared to other Web progress, there have been some key developments in many areas and industries. In his “Project 10X’s Semantic Wave 2008 Report: Industry Roadmap to Web 3.0 & Multibillion Dollar Market Opportunities” (Davis, 2008), Mills Davis explored the development of the Semantic Web in four phases: Phase 1, “the Web”; Phase 2, “the social Web”; Phase 3, “the Semantic Web”; and Phase 4 (the future), “the ubiquitous Web.” Phase 1 (the Web) is about connecting information and getting access to the Web. Phase 2 (the social Web) is about connecting people. As we have seen with the development and growth of social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo Xing,, and Naymz, connecting people from all walks of life and all parts of the world (i.e., Phase 2) has been accomplished. Phase 3 (the Semantic Web) is about connecting knowledge. Phase 4 (the ubiquitous Web) will allow us to connect intelligence.

Mills explains the three planes that have been developed over time to allow the Semantic Web to become a reality. The Operating Plane is the foundation layer of the three planes. It consists of the information, infrastructure, applications, and user interface. The second plane is the Internet. The third plane, the Knowledge Plane, is where the Semantic Web has its beginnings, developments, and breakthroughs. And a successful development of the Semantic Web requires the use of many tools, including, to name only a few, tagged collections, dictionaries, taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies. These tools need to be understood fully to be able to navigate the semantic waters as they assist the algorithms in providing the accuracy in the result set.

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