26 July 2006

Open Tools for the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a kind of intelligent Web, one that consists not just of contextless numbers and meaningless words but of data that means something:

The Semantic Web is a web of data. There is lots of data we all use every day, and its not part of the web. I can see my bank statements on the web, and my photographs, and I can see my appointments in a calendar. But can I see my photos in a calendar to see what I was doing when I took them? Can I see bank statement lines in a calendar?

Why not? Because we don't have a web of data. Because data is controlled by applications, and each application keeps it to itself.

The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for interchange of data, where on the original Web we only had interchange of documents. Also it is about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects. That allows a person, or a machine, to start off in one database, and then move through an unending set of databases which are connected not by wires but by being about the same thing.

Tim thinks it's going to be really big, which is good enough for me.

But to use all this richness, we're going to need tools, so it's good to seem some open source ones coming along. Doubly good, because they're from a company, Aduna, that has seen the free software light. (Via Enterprise Open Source Magazine.)

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