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abstract for SWAP2008

Publishing Linked Data on the Semantic Web: how and why?

The Web is a global information space, already it has radically changed virtually all aspects of modern life. It exists through the layering of a relatively simple protocol (HTTP) and text markup language (HTML) over the robust network that is the Internet. The reason it is a unified space, and a key to its success, is the hyperlink - a simple means of leading the reader from one document to something related. But the Web is predominantly document-based, even where the material presented is derived from a database, on the Web it generally appears in a human readable form. The Semantic Web offers the promise of extending the capabilities of this system, with corresponding benefits to end users, into dealing with data first-hand. In short, we can do for data what we did for documents. It is straightforward to translate from traditional means of representing data (typically RDBMSs) to representing the same on the Web, and many Semantic Web systems take the approach of creating a direct mirror of localised relational data on the Web. However, to take complete advantage of the Web infrastructure, we should look at it's glue, the hyperlink. By considering the relations of databases in terms of relational links on the Web, it's possible to view the (Semantic) Web as a global database. Global scalability can be provided by interlinked distribution of computer-friendly information, just like the Web. To maximise the benefits from their efforts, every Web developer should be aware of how and why to link data on the Web.

In the first half of this tutorial a review of basic (Semantic) Web principles will be presented, extending into description of issues that face data publishers. The notions behind Linked Data will be presented, along with associated principles and practical techniques such as the publication of microformats/RDFa and intertwingling with existing open data. Reasons why the typical Web developer should be aware of the benefits will be suggested, with a view to managing the inevitable evolution of the Web.

The second half of the tutorial will be hands-on, in which everyone will gain experience of linking data on the (Semantic) Web.