Spinning the Semantic Web: Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential

Gobinda G. Chowdhury (University of Strathclyde)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Chowdhury, G.G. (2004), "Spinning the Semantic Web: Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential", Online Information Review, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 242-243. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684520410543733



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Based on a seminar held in Dagstuhl, Germany, in March 2000, this book provides an overview of one of the most upcoming and interesting topics of the modern information world called the semantic Web. With contributions from a total of 41 authors, the book contains 15 chapters including an introduction by the editors. A total of 14 chapters have been presented under three main sections: languages and ontologies, knowledge support, and dynamic support. In his foreword to this book Tim Berners‐Lee, originator of the World Wide Web, states that “the Semantic Web is the realization of an aspect of the Web that was part of the original hopes and dreams of 1989, but whose development has, until now, taken a back seat to the Web of multimedia human‐readable material.” The papers in this book provide a snapshot of the various research activities directed towards achieving the goal of building a semantic Web.

In their introduction, which forms Chapter 1 of the book, the editors highlight the current problems of knowledge management and e‐commerce on the Web, and then discuss the concept of semantic Web, its various components and functionalities. The basic concept of ontology and its role in building the semantic Web are also discussed here. Part 1 of the book, entitled “Languages and ontologies”, contains five papers. In the second chapter, which is the first paper in Part 1, Heflin, Hendler and Luke describe a design language called SHOE that allows the design and use of ontologies on the Web. This chapter provides an overview of SHOE and discusses how it can overcome the most common problems of information retrieval on the Web. In Chapter 3 McGuiness et al. discuss the DAML‐ONT (the DARPA Agent Markup Langauge Ontology) language. After reviewing the history and motivations for the development of this language, the authors discuss language syntax and its use. In Chapter 4 Klein et al. discuss the relations between ontologies and two other schema from the W3C,: RDF and XML. Specifically, this chapter shows how RDF and XML can be used to add ontology‐based semantics to online resources. In Chapter 5 Omelayenko et al. provide an overview of the Unified Problem‐solving Method Development Language (UPML) framework and tools, and demonstrate how this language can provide the technology for the next level of service of the Web in providing the users with online and ready‐to‐use problem‐solving resources. In Chapter 6 McGuiness discusses the various types of ontologies, their structure, applications and use. This should probably form the first chapter in this part of the book, since it provides a general overview of ontologies.

In the first chapter in Part 2, which is Chapter 7 in the book, Broekstra, Kampman and van Harmelen describe Sesame, an architecture for storage and retrieval of large quantities of RDF metadata on the Web. Sesame is developed by Aidministrator Nederland b.v. as part of the European IST project. In Chapter 8 Jasper and Uschold discuss the importance of semantics for the Web especially from a task‐oriented approach. They argue that the semantic Web enables new applications that can support user tasks and thus can help them achieve broader goals. Gil, in Chapter 9, suggests that the semantic Web will provide an ideal framework for developing knowledge bases. Arguing that one of the objectives of knowledge‐based systems is to facilitate interoperability and accessibility, this chapter describes how interoperability is supported through shared ontologies and translation tools. In Chapter 10 Thacker, Sheth and Patel discuss a framework for managing complex relationships that, according to them, will be the basis for discovery of knowledge from the semantic Web. Maedche et al. discuss SEAL (the SEmantic portAL) in Chapter 11. SEAL is used for developing ontology‐based knowledge systems that have been applied for constructing the AIFB, University of Karlsruhe, Web site.

In Chapter 12 Lassila and Adler discuss the characteristics of semantic gadgets – devices that are capable of semantically discovering and using services by other automated systems without human intervention. Frye, Plusch and Lieberman, in Chapter 13, justify the needs for dynamic semantics and show how this can be done using intelligent agent software that will be increasingly available on the Web. Considering the fact that Web contents are now available from a variety of mobile devices, Hori (Chapter 14) suggests that it is necessary for Web contents to be adapted for transparent access from a variety of client agents. In the last chapter of the book, Tate et al. discuss their work towards the creation of a common ontology in the fields of military planning, and standards for representing activities and processes.

Overall this book provides an excellent overview of the various issues of ontology and the semantic Web, along with reports on various research activities in these areas that are currently taking place in different parts of the world. This book will definitely be an excellent starting point for researchers on ontologies and the semantic Web.

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