What is the Semantic Web?

The Semantic Web Concept

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The Semantic Web is a Web of Data. It is the future of the Web, an ongoing project that depends on the work of all of us who believe in the power of the Web as more than a tool, but as a platform that can unleash human knowledge as never before.

The goal behind the development of the Semantic Web is to evolve our current web into one big global database, interconnected and easily intelligible by both humans and computers.

In this new scenario it will be possible to perform searches regardless of the type, format and source of the data and the result will be found.

And the result found will be rich because of the semantically interrelated data, generating information, far beyond the current list of sites, disconnected from each other.

Watch the video below with Tim Berners-Lee at the TED Talks before we continue, here on this page.

Tim Berners-Lee explains The Web of Semantic Data

Tim Berners-Lee

The History of the Semantic Web

The history of the Semantic Web is intertwined with the history of the Web itself. The founders of the “world wide web” are practically the same people who defined and answered the question:

What is the Semantic Web?

That’s when Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila published, in 2001, an article in Scientific American magazine, called The Semantic Web – A new form of Web content that is meaningful to computers will unleash a revolution of new possibilitiesin Portuguese “Semantic Web: a new format for content for the Web that has meaning for computers will start a revolution of new possibilities”¹ that the idea of Web Semantics.

Learn about the History of the Web and learn who Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila are.

From the initial concept of the web (a network of computers serving documents hosted in a database) to its current stage, that is, a network of integrated content that generates information, a long way has been traveled. Many brilliant professionals have contributed their work so that I am here writing and you are reading me.

Before, when we wanted something, we had to do a search based on key words. You type in the search box and a series of links appear.

Nowadays this scenario changes every moment, rapidly!

Much more than a document web

This new web, which is being born from the work of the community of developers, content creators, scientists and others, will be the result of the development of this collective work. The new Web will be a Web of Data, where online documents will be interpreted and from their connection we will draw meaning, nexus.

In short, the semantic web is an extension of the World Wide Web that allows humans to work with each other and with computers in a fully cooperative state.

By linking documents through their meanings, by assigning meaning to these contents, we are creating the future environment of acquiring and sharing all human information on earth. A virtually infinite source of knowledge creation.

This is my vision of the future, which is shared by thousands of other professionals dealing with semantics and building content and projects for this new Web.

Whether by creating a layer of content published on the Internet, understandable by both humans and computers, or by programming and developing languages that enabled this human-machine conversation, everyone can be part of this movement.

The Future of the Web is Semantic

This new web is called the Semantic Web because of the meaning that correct semantic markup brings to the content available on the Internet.

Pierre Lévy foresees two major challenges on the road to transforming the web into a semantic system:

The first is the absence of skilled professionals to work on organizing the information;

The second is the need to adopt a standard for the so-called “semantic web” – which will allow all knowledge to be automatically coordinated by concepts, and no longer by the links between documents.

How we solve these problems is part of the success, or not, of the Semantic Web .

Beyond the classic “Document Web

Organizations like W3C – World Wide Web Consortium – are working to build the technology needed to support the “ Web of data “.

I share the W3C ‘s view when it comes to the Semantic Web:

  • Information on the web has an exact meaning
  • Web information can be understood and processed by computers
  • Computers can integrate information from the web

Scientists all over the world are now working to make computers do more useful work by creating a system that supports reliable network interactions.

But what does the Semantic Web mean?

The term “Semantic Web” also refers to the W3C ‘s vision of the Web of linked data.

The Semantic Web expands the Web, through the use of structured data, so that computers understand the content of your site as much as humans do.

Alex Rodrigues

Semantic Web technologies allow people to create data stores on the Web, create vocabularies, and write rules for handling data.

Linked data is empowered by technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, OWL, and SKOS.

“This would mean an end to the fragmentation of the information network, currently divided because of language barriers and diverse choices of organizing systems.”- Pierre Lévy

But what is the Semantic Web today?

Things may be a bit confusing for you, who may be wondering what this Semantic Web really is.

Perhaps the most intelligible definition is that Berners-Lee himself, in his 2001 article:

“The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web in which information is given a well-defined meaning.”

Those of us who are working on building this new , more semantic web have the right idea of what the above words mean when we see the Semantic Web Tower:

The Semantic Web stack

To create this on the Web phase requires layers and layers of metadata, logic, and security to make the Os basic building blocks of semantics.

In the visual representation above, we have the layers surrounding a stack, a tower of blocks, representing the whole process.

This stack changes and evolves as the concepts that make up the Semantic Web develop.

The basic building blocks of semantics

In the article Tim goes on to explain what the “layers” of this tower are:

The basic blocks, consisting of the Unicode and URIs going all the way up to XML, reach the more sophisticated layers such as ontology voc abularies and RDF.

A lot of work still needs to be done!

If you already understand what we are talking about, you realize how things work. But if you are expecting all this to be available to your company, you need to take it easy.

Much work still needs to be done, despite the speed of Semantic Web development. Many of the technologies that make it up need to be better defined, developed. Technologies such as RDF, RDF Schema, Ontologies, and Integration Systems need to be worked on for a while longer before they are 100% ready.

But if the Semantic Web hasn’t taken off yet, what do you do to get it off the drawing board and into action?

The first problem: people want to participate

Let’s go back to the Semantic Web definition:

The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web that will allow computers and people to work cooperatively on meaning information.

The simple fact that the Semantic Web is an extension of the current network (which is also still being built), creates a problem for us: the computational part evolves well, but people need to be ready to work cooperatively.

For you and me (and the rest of the Web users ), it matters little whether RDF correctly specifies the data, or whether XML is well constructed, we want to use all the capabilities of the new Web now. We want to finally use the computers we have created, to the maximum of their capabilities.

The second problem: the standards are for machines

Each time a technical standard reaches the maturity needed to advance the Semantic Web we get closer to the end goal, but this only serves to make semantics more and more sophisticated.

The technical aspect will continue to evolve bringing the Semantic Web to the level we need.

But they are for machines, they are programmed to run on systems that don’t talk to each other, and that’s why it is so urgent to create a “semantic layer” or “semantic universal language” that bridges the gap between data and people.

The third problem: the integration of man-machine

Adapting technologies to people’s needs is the third problem to be solved. The connection between these two seemingly separate worlds: people and computers needs to be made.

We need to mature the technologies involved in the Semantic Web. Once we finish this step, the absurd amount of data we generate every day will actually be available to the people who need it.

The fourth problem: Dealing with the clutter of the Data Web

In the article,“Dealing with the messiness of the web of data” by Stefan Schlobach and Craig A. Knoblock¹, I found a fourth and complex problem. They explain:

Semantic Web research, now in its second decade, has been successful in encouraging people to publish data on the Web in structured, linked, and standardized ways. The success of what has now become the Web of Data can be seen by the large number of triples available in the Linked Open Data, Linked Life Data, and Open Government initiatives.

However, this increase in data renders many of the established assumptions inadequate and provides a host of new research challenges.

In stark contrast to the early Semantic Web applications that dealt with small ontologies and hand-made data sets, the new Web of Data comes with a plethora of contradictory worldviews and contains incomplete, inconsistent, incorrect, changing, and opinionated ones in the making.

This information comes not only from academic sources and reliable institutions, but is often created, copied or translated by the community.

In short, the data is confusing and difficult to use. This special issue is dedicated to this confusion and how to deal with it. The approaches in this document can be broadly classified into two classes: first, to provide guidelines or best practices to avoid the mess in the first place, and second, giving users an infrastructure and techniques to build useful applications despite the mess.

In short, the data is messy and difficult to use.

S. Schlobach, C.A. Knoblock, Dealing with the messiness of the webof data,Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web(2012),doi:10.1016/j.websem.2012.05.001

The Future of the Semantic Web

To organize the information available nowadays we count on the help of artificial intelligence (and other new technologies), so new techniques will be used to give meaning to the contents distributed over the internet.

But for the web to reach the level of maturity that we need, it is not only about being able to link content. Those who work creating content need to have the willingness and technical knowledge to use technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, OWL, and SKOS.

The Semantic Web is a network of linked data

Imagine these technologies as windows to the content that your company has been creating for years (or is going to create) and that today is stuck, inaccessible in your siteThe information is stored in a database on computers in the company, but could be used by people all over the world to generate information.

Vocabularies for organizing data

This work of organizing the data is extremely important. Using OWL (for building vocabularies or “ontologies”) and SKOS (for creating knowledge organization systems) it is possible to enrich data by augmenting it with new meanings. This allows more people (and more machines) to do more with the available data.

Consulting Information from around the World!

Query languages are the best friends of data.

Earlier we saw that the Semantic Web is a Web of Data. So to have access to all this data we need to create a language that queries, that searches, these databases for information.

SPARQL is the query language of the Semantic Web.

NLP-based Model and Semantic Web for Information Retrieval

In this live, which is part of the series on Artificial Intelligence and the Semantic Web, Sueliton Ribeiro (Senior Expert Leader at CI&T) and Caio Saraiva Coneglian talk about information retrieval using two different strategies.

Sueliton talks about the creation of Bots Conversational and Caio shows the result of his PhD thesis “INFORMATION RETRIEVAL COMPUTATIONAL MODEL FOR DIGITAL REPOSITORIES USING ONTOLOGIES” and this is where I would like you to look at your talk to see how the use of Semantic Web tools in conjunction with Ontologies and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can shape the future of the Semantic Web.

How can a semantic Web help your company?

What could micro and small businesses do to participate in this evolution of the Web?

Let’s look at the work that the W3C has been doing with different industries.

Working with companies in healthcare, life sciences, eGovernment, and energy to improve collaboration, research and development, and adoption of innovation and the Semantic Web.

For example, by aiding decision-making in clinical research, Semantic Web technologies will connect many forms of biological and medical information across institutions.

Now think with me: does your company generate data? All the time, correct? Just look at how many spreadsheets are on your computer.

But what kind of information does this data generate for you, for the companies you work with, for the market you are in?

Did you know that inside your computer are the necessary data for your company to start an excellent SEO job?

What is the Semantic Web?

In this first part of the Semantic SEO track I talk about the creation of the Web and its transition to the Semantic Web, the problems and challenges we are facing.

Learn more about Semantic SEO and the Semantic Web.

Yes! This is exactly what I said: the enormous amount of data that every company generates on a daily basis is the beginning of work that we call Semantic SEO.

In this process we create a vocabulary for your business, with the important themes for your market, and create content (based on data) so that today’s intelligent search engines understand that your site is relevant enough to appear in search queries.

SEO and the Semantic Web

A lot has changed since the invention of the Web and since Tim Berners-Lee developed the foundations of the Semantic Web. The web has grown from a handful of websites to millions of platforms and billions of pages. It used to be limited to the access of a select few, who were in universities or in homes that could afford to buy a computer.

Today, in most places, many have access to an (almost) unrestricted access network, with pages, platforms and systems of the most varied kinds. All this being crawled, ranked, sorted and displayed by modern search engines, based on powerful algorithms that even your programmers are not sure how they work.

What is it like to optimize a site for a semantic web?

There is a challenge and an opportunity in the semantic web for website owners. The challenge is to create content that goes beyond separate an-page texts and blog posts. What needs to be done is to think about the market you are in, which entities are part of this domain (field of knowledge) and create content around it.

But what is this so-called entity?

Well, it is simple: these are the basic themes of your market. Shall we take an example?

My market is SEO, and in this domain, that of website optimization, we have:

  • Search Engine;
  • Website development;
  • On-page SEO;
  • Link Building;
  • Content Marketing;
  • Search Engine;
  • AEO;
  • Algorithms;
  • and much more…

These are the entities, specific themes, basic, of a market (adapting a basic concept of the Semantic Web), that we always use but that need to be explained and defined to our audience, who are often laymen on the subject.

So this is the strategy we call Semantic SEO!

The Semantic Web, as I said, is a Web of meaning. Documents that are on the web today are beginning to be crawled, ranked, sorted, and displayed in ways that were not possible before.

Rich snippets below are a sample of what can be done when a search engine understands your content:

seo semantico

What you need to do is have a website with well-crafted code, pages planned and developed according to Semantic SEO strategies, and create content that explains and connects the entities that are in your market.

But that’s another subject and you can read all about SEO here on our blog!

A suggestion for advanced reading

Web 2.0 and Semantic Web

by Vladan Devedžić, Dragan Gaševic

Web 2.0 describes the trend in web technology and design that aims to increase creativity, information sharing, and most importantly, collaboration among users.

The Semantic Web refers to the intelligent interaction between systems and applications on the Web, implementing ontologies, semantic annotations of Web content, and reasoning.

Its ultimate goal is to make the data comprehensible to computers and thus open up for much greater usefulness and manipulation.

Edited by two Springer authors, this special issue of AoIS will present cutting-edge research on these often opposing trends in computing and support discussion on the synergies and controversies inherent in the two technologies, while also considering what other technologies can contribute to both.

Dramatic advances in service-oriented architectures, model-driven engineering, and Web mining technologies are just a few of the developments that could have a considerable impact on Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web, and all of them will be covered in this volume.

This is important material for anyone researching data and web mining technologies, web-based application development, applied AI, or service-oriented architectures.

  • Publisher: Springer US
  • Language: English
  • Web 2.0 & Semantic Web
  • Author: Vladan Devedžić, Dragan Gaševic
  • Published by Springer US
  • ISBN: 978-1-4419-1218-3

Table of Contents:

  • TagFusion: A System for Integration and Leveraging of Collaborative Tagurns
  • Semantic Enhancement of Social Tagging Systems
  • Adaptation and Recommendation Techniques to Improve the Quality of Annotations and the Relevance of Resources in Web 2.0 and Semantic Web-Based Applications
  • Adaptive Reactive Rich Internet Applications
  • Towards Enhanced Usability of Natural Language Interfaces to Knowledge Bases
  • Semantic Document Model to Enhance Data and Knowledge Interoperability
  • Ontology-Based Data Mining in Digital Libraries
  • An Assessment System on the Semantic Web

To buy:

eBook | Physical Book

¹Berners-Lee, Tim &amn”>p; Hendler, James & Lassila, Ora. (2001). The Semantic Web: A New Form of Web Content That is Meaningful to Computers Will Unleash a Revolution of New Possibilities. ScientificAmerican.com.

¹ S. Schlobach, C.A. Knoblock, Dealing with the messiness of the web of data, Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web (2012), doi:10.1016/j.websem.2012.05.001

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a Web of Data but it goes far beyond a web of documents, it is an extension of the World Wide Web that allows computers and humans to work cooperatively. Through it computers will understand the meaning of the content that humans publish on the web.

What is Human-Machine Integration?

Human-Machine Integration takes place in three stages. The first one where the machine does one thing at a time. In the second she will accomplish several things at the same time. The third is superintelligence, the moment of singularity.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is human-like intelligence displayed by mechanisms or software, and is also an academic field of study.

What is Markup Language?

Markup language, or Markup, is a modern system for annotating text so that it is syntactically distinguishable. The idea and terminology evolved from the “marking” of manuscripts, that is, the instructions for review by editors, traditionally written in blue pen on authors’ manuscripts.

Alexander Rodrigues Silva

Alexander Rodrigues Silva

Consultor SEO

Especialista SEO, consultor internacional SEO e autor do livro SEO Semântico: Fluxo de trabalho semântico. Sou um defensor da Web Semântica e Bibliotecário em formação, com mais de 20 anos de experiência no Digital. Trabalho com Search Engine Optimization desde 2009, sempre buscando alinhar a experiência do usuário a estratégias como Marketing de Conteúdo, otimizando o investimento em SEO.

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