The Languages of the Semantic Web

Today's simplistic web languages are giving way to richer, more robust polyglots that transcend information storage and retrieval and allow web pages to express meaning.

When Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, he also invented Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), a bare-bones set of commands for formatting web pages. Because this simple language could be easily implemented on virtually any type of computer system, its adoption as a standard was rapid and widespread, fueling the explosion of web use.

Today, Berners-Lee heads a next generation project to create what he calls "The Semantic Web" -- a virtual wonderland where we'll be able to do all kinds of cool things, including finding information with nearly effortless ease (see link below for more on the Semantic Web).

To realize this vision of the web, new languages have been developed that go far beyond the limitations of HTML. To many people, these languages are nothing more than acronym soup: RDF, XML, DAML, OIL, and so on. But very gradually they're working their way into the fabric of the web, and it behooves us all to have at least a working overview of the new languages and their functions.

Uche Ogbuji's thoughtful overview of the Semantic Web is a gentle introduction to the new languages that are soon going to be ubiquitous. It's an excellent, well-written primer that's well worth a read for anyone who plans to spend a lot of future hours in the continually evolving world of cyberspace.

The Languages of the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web
A terrific overview of the Semantic Web and how it will change our online lives, from core W3C team members Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila.

On the Road to the Semantic Web
SearchDay, March 20, 2002
A new language called OWL will help power automated tools for the next generation web, offering advanced services such as more accurate Web search, intelligent software agents and knowledge management.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.