In addition to the classic “Web of documents” W3C is helping to build a technology stack to support a “Web of data,” the sort of data you find in databases. The ultimate goal of the Web of data is to enable computers to do more useful work and to develop systems that can support trusted interactions over the network. The term “Semantic Web” refers to W3C’s vision of the Web of linked data. Semantic Web technologies enable people to create data stores on the Web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data. Linked data are empowered by technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, OWL, and SKOS.
The Semantic Web is a Web of data — of dates and titles and part numbers and chemical properties and any other data one might conceive of. RDF provides the foundation for publishing and linking your data. Various technologies allow you to embed data in documents (RDFa, GRDDL) or expose what you have in SQL databases, or make it available as RDF files.
At times it may be important or valuable to organize data. Using OWL (to build vocabularies, or “ontologies”) and SKOS (for designing knowledge organization systems) it is possible to enrich data with additional meaning, which allows more people (and more machines) to do more with the data.
Query languages go hand-in-hand with databases. If the Semantic Web is viewed as a global database, then it is easy to understand why one would need a query language for that data. SPARQL is the query language for the Semantic Web.
Near the top of the Semantic Web stack one finds inference — reasoning over data through rules. W3C work on rules, primarily through RIF and OWL, is focused on translating between rule languages and exchanging rules among different systems.
W3C is working with different industries — for example in Health Care and Life Sciences, eGovernment, and Energy — to improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation adoption through Semantic Web technology. For instance, by aiding decision-making in clinical research, Semantic Web technologies will bridge many forms of biological and medical information across institutions.
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