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"Semantic Web" Is Getting Closer and Closer, Says Tim Berners-Lee

TBL keynote keynote at the 13th annual WWW Conference

In February, unnoticed by many, two standards became W3C recommendations: the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the OWL Web Ontology Language (OWL). This was the signal that Tim Berners-Lee's next project, the "Semantic Web" - an extension of the current Web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation - is considered by the W3C to be ready now for more widespread adoption.

Bringing his keynote audience up to date at the 13th annual WWW Conference, Berners-Lee reported that attendees could go straight out and "Semantic Web-enable" anything they can online - though "We're going to have to bootstrap things in the short term," he conceded.

Referring to the process of getting RDF and OWL to the point where each could become a standard, Berners-Lee admitted that "There was a lot of pain and sweat and tears and discussions and arguments." 

But the next phase, as the Semantic Web delivers on its promise of providing a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries, ought to go more smoothly, he reckoned. "I hope it'll be very exciting. We'll start to get more satisfaction back from actually building applications and seeing them connect together."

In April Berners-Lee was selected unanimously out of a field of 78 innovators from 22 countries and won the very first Millennium Technology Prize awarded by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation for inventing the World Wide Web - "an innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values and encourages sustainable economic development," as the Foundation award committee said.

In December of 2003, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and became, as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee.


More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
tcopeland 05/20/04 07:00:00 AM EDT

For some examples, ...check out various tools on SemWebCentral.

For example, you can browse the GForge project listing using OWL - more precisely, using an HTMLized version of the ObjectViewer.

Frans Faase 05/20/04 06:56:55 AM EDT

I am a great fan of the idea of a semantic web. But I am afraid that it does not work in reality. As soons as it gains some momentum it will be hijacked by large companies (MS, Yahoo) trying to commercialize it and by small companies trying to misuse it (spam).

K-Man 05/20/04 06:55:54 AM EDT

It seems to me like a meaningless concept. So far the biggest semantic web project I''ve seen is IBM''s WebFountain, which is basically a big sed script that goes through the web and wraps each stock phrase it finds with meta tags, and enters them in a big database. It seems like a reasonable phrase search would accomplish the same thing.

!3ren 05/20/04 06:54:51 AM EDT

Ultimately, the question is whether people actually want to enable the ability to reuse and recombine their data.

Within your own data, tools to enable you to analyse and reuse your data are highly prized, but enabling anyone else to use your valuable data to their own ends benefits (almost) noone. (IMHO)

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