Social networking on the semantic web

Tim Finin (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Li Ding (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Lina Zhou (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Anupam Joshi (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Publication date: 1 October 2005



Aims to investigate the way that the semantic web is being used to represent and process social network information.


The Swoogle semantic web search engine was used to construct several large data sets of Resource Description Framework (RDF) documents with social network information that were encoded using the “Friend of a Friend” (FOAF) ontology. The datasets were analyzed to discover how FOAF is being used and investigate the kinds of social networks found on the web.


The FOAF ontology is the most widely used domain ontology on the semantic web. People are using it in an open and extensible manner by defining new classes and properties to use with FOAF.

Research limitations/implications

RDF data was only obtained from public RDF documents published on the web. Some RDF FOAF data may be unavailable because it is behind firewalls, on intranets or stored in private databases. The ways in which the semantic web languages RDF and OWL are being used (and abused) are dynamic and still evolving. A similar study done two years from now may show very different results.


This paper describes how social networks are being encoded and used on the world wide web in the form of RDF documents and the FOAF ontology. It provides data on large social networks as well as insights on how the semantic web is being used in 2005.



Finin, T., Ding, L., Zhou, L. and Joshi, A. (2005), "Social networking on the semantic web", The Learning Organization, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 418-435.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.