Weaving Meaning: The Semantic Web

Eric Miller, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead

American Association of Law Libraries
Orlando, FL USA

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"Leading the Web to its Full Potential"

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500+ members, 60+ staff

Hosted at MIT, INRIA and KEIO

HTML, XHTML, XML, RDF, Semantic Web, Web Services, XSL, CSS, WAI, etc.

Enabling technologies for the web of today and tomorrow

The Semantic Web: What is it?


The Semantic Web

a bed time story...

Current Web

identified by URI's
href, src, ...
limited, non-descriptive

Exciting world - semantics of the resource, however, gleaned from content
Very little information available - significance of the links only evident from the context around the anchor.

the current web

Semantic Web - Simple Extension to the Current Web

Globally Identified by URI's
or Locally scoped (Blank)
Extensible, Relational
Identified by URI's
Extensible, Relational

Even more exciting world, richer user experience
More processable information is available
New applications to help work, learn and exchange knowledge effectively

the semantic web

What is the Semantic Web?

The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web, in which information is given well defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.

Information that has well defined meaning is in a form that machines can understand, rather than simply display.

Machine understandable documents does not imply some magical artificial intelligence allowing machines to comprehend human speech, rather it relies solely on the machine's ability to solve well defined problems by performing well defined operations on well defined data.

or, another way to think about it...

The Semantic Web is a mesh of information linked up in such a way as to be easily processable by machines, on a global scale.

You can think of it as being an efficient way of representing data on the World Wide Web, or as a globally linked database.

W3C Semantic Goals

W3C Semantic Web Activity - Structure

The Semantic Web Activity

W3C Semantic Web Activity - Approach to Deployment

Semantic Web Principles

Everything Identifiable is on the Semantic Web

Semantic Web Principles

Partial Information

Semantic Web Principles

Web of Trust

Semantic Web Principles


Semantic Web Principles

Minimalist Design

Semantic Web

Building on proven ideas

Architectural aims

A solution: RDF

RDF - A Semantic Web Enabling Technology

RDF Schema

Web Ontology

Adapting the Relational Model for the Web

Example Triple

(Not RDF/XML syntax):

http://example.org/case123     (Subject)
  http://example.org/legal/vocab#plaintiff     (Verb/Property)
    http://example.org/co1     (Object/Value)

Meaning: "Case case123  has plaintiff  Company co1"

example triple

Joining Triples to Create a Graph

Joining Data from Multiple Sources


Joining Data from Multiple Sources


Joining Data from Multiple Sources


Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is a mesh of information linked up in such a way as to be easily processable by machines, on a global scale.

Contextualize resources.

Globally linked database.

Designed of enabling technologies to make the simple things simple, and the complex things possible.

More than the sum of the parts

Law Libraries and the Semantic Web