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Semantic Web: The Beginnings

Semantic Web: The Beginnings

The web’s success is mainly due to its decentralised design.

Web pages are hosted by multiple computers and are linked to other documents. These are either stored on the same or different computers. This design has made the World Wide Web the greatest repository of information ever assembled by man. The data is instantaneously available to anyone with an internet connection. Media resources, documents, people and products can be displayed and or provided by individuals at any time. This is what has caused an exponential growth of the internet.

The growth of the internet has also become its weakness.

The volume of available information has become so large that it is becoming more difficult to locate useful data. Various search engines have tried to improve the way that a user may search for information. However the process still includes multiple searches and clicks. Search engines are still search engines. Meaning that they do what they are told. A user may expect them to perform tasks. For example, finding a hotel in France and locating all the English restaurants nearby. Or similarly finding and booking the best flight to the least expensive holiday location. To fulfil both these tasks would involve a long search process on multiple sites. Once the sites are found the content would need to be read, integrated and then decided upon. The human interaction in the search process is still very high.

However who is doing the searching?

The web has been developed for user interaction and is not designed to be processed by machines. Web pages are built using languages that tell the machine what to do or where to go. However it will not understand what the text means. Thus means each link or document will just lead to another and another. The meaning behind each piece of text is what the computer needs to understand in order to process the web pages intelligently. Tim Berners-Lee (2001) the inventor of the Web has described a way of doing this. By adding languages to the web which translate the meaning of web pages.

The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.”
(Berners-Lee et al., 2001)