Semantic Web wears new face

As government agencies turn to Web services to link disparate applications, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says the Semantic Web will restructure the actual data content.

Web services can, from the back end, integrate software applications that don't normally talk to each other, Berners-Lee said today at a McLean, Va., technology summit sponsored by the Geospatial Information and Technology Association and Open GIS Consortium.

Unlike Web services, the Semantic Web from the front end can integrate data that doesn't normally communicate, he said. For example, airline flight information from one Web program could be automatically inserted into another airline's electronic calendar along with a corresponding map image from yet another airline.

'There's a clear need for Semantic Web use in government,' said Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium. He said the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Agent Markup Language program, started three years ago, last month produced a beta version of the latest DAML-S Version 0.9 Web ontology.

Rather than hide data behind a Web service, he said, Semantic Web developers should 'consider putting it out there' with easy-to-understand, machine-readable descriptors written in Extensible Markup Language.

The World Wide Web Consortium's XML-based Resource Description Framework describes Web sites, data and their relationships. Agency programmers can use that metadata to build smarter search engines and directories, he said.

'The Semantic Web lets you express your own concept," Berners-Lee said.

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