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Revision as of 19:55, 1 September 2004 by DanC (Talk)

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Here's an explanation of the SemanticWeb by way of analogy:

Let's say you're going to the grocery store. At the grocery store, you get a box of cereal, right? So, you go to the self-checkout, and shout to the computer, "I am buying a box of cereal!"

Of course, in this day and age, the computer doesn't understand you. It just says, "Please slide the item across the reader..."


So you find the bar code on the cereal. You slide it past the laser reader. Suddenly- bingo. The computer knows what the item is, how much it costs, how many you've bought so far, etc., etc., etc.,. Computers don't yet know how to just "look" at the item, and know what it is.

So we make it easier for the computer: We tell the computer in a language easy for it to understand. Every item in the store has been given a number. That number has been correlated with other information in a database. The number has been encoded into a bar code, because the laser can read the bar code.

And the whole thing results in a computer that can reason over a box of cereal that you're holding in your hand.

Resulting in faster and more accurate check-out.

Back to the Web

So, what's that have to do with the web?

The SemanticWeb is like bar codes for the web.

Say you visit your friend's web page. You can read all this information on the web page, look at picture, etc., etc.,. But your computer doesn't understand a thing about it.

If your friend wrote, "Hey friends! Call me up! My number is 555-1212," your computer just sees it long stream of text. Sort of like: If you write a letter to your friend about cats, your computer still doesn't understand a thing about cats.


But now, let's put your friend's page on the Semantic Web. Following the cereal analogy- let's make a little bar code tag, and connect it to your friend's web page. Now, when you see that web page, you can look for the attached bar code tag. In SemanticWeb terms, the bar code tag is written in RDF. When your computer finds the RDF, it can read out all the information.

Suddenly your computer knows your friend's name, what his phone number is, who his friends are, etc., etc., etc.,. Maybe this all appears in your address book. Or maybe you discover friends with similar interests.

The SemanticWeb will completely revolutionize the way that we use computers.

The Semantic Web

(I'd like to include here a diagram of semantic web connections, with dashed lines representing the border between the various RDF pages. This diagram will complete the explanation of what the semantic web is: a web that computers can traverse with ease.)

(If someone else would like to do it, that's okay with me too. Or, you could write some placeholder texthere.)

Page Notes

The images are presently stored on my server.

If a site administrator could download the images, and store them as attachments, it'd be greatly appreciated. I'll delete the images one day, by accident, and then bye-bye pictures.

The images should go in $esw_dir/data/pages/SemanticWeb/attachments/ and should include: cereal_box.png, web_page.png, and cereal_analogy.svg so that people have the source.