Knitting the Semantic Web

Lan Anh Tran (Victoria University of Wellington)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




Anh Tran, L. (2008), "Knitting the Semantic Web", Online Information Review, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 287-288.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Over the last few years the semantic web has gained greater attention from librarians and information professionals. They are looking for relevant knowledge and information, advice and answers that can support them in developing a more library‐like web (termed “semantic knitting” in this book. This edited collection contains a series of articles by leaders in library and information science, computer science, and information‐intensive domains, because these leaders have intensive involvement with the semantic web and have played a significant role in its development. The term “semantic web” is defined as an extension of the existing web that allows us to define the meaning of information and to enable computers and people to work in cooperation.

The book consists of two parts. Part 1 examines the semantic web's foundations, standards and tools. It starts with the foundation article by Campbell on the “Birth of the Clinic” that is considered a model for understanding information organisation in association with the semantic web. At a deeper level McCathie, Neville and Mendez examine the traditional card catalogue and resource description framework (RDF) that is the standard for creating the semantic web. Additionally, Harper and Tillett investigate the uses of various controlled vocabularies, classification schemes and thesauri as building blocks of the semantic web. Such controlled vocabularies and schemes are viewed as semantic web language by Miles and Perez‐Aguera. Specifically, they discuss simple knowledge organisation for the web, a framework for representing controlled, structured vocabularies. This work is related to Tennis's article that discusses a conceptual framework and methodology for encoding and organising scheme versions for the semantic web. Rogers' article examines the current library automation environment and the identification of semantic tools and technologies, such as XML, XML schema, ontologies and ontology languages. Furthermore, Rogers recommends a number of areas for future research.

Part 2 investigates semantic web projects and perspectives. It opens with a discussion by Severiens and Thiemann of the structure and development of the underlying ontology and a detailed overview of an online web‐based editorial tool for maintaining databases. In particular these authors explore the RDF database for PhysNet, a leading project in Physics information that has used Semantic Web technologies for distributing user‐driven services. Michon then explores the value of semantic web technologies in bio‐medicine, and defines the important roles of library and information scientists in developing a more efficient bio‐medical information infrastructure. This is followed by Liang, Salokhe, Sini and Keizer's paper that investigates methodologies for semantic integration of heterogeneous resources at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that presents significant information retrieval challenges. Throughout this investigation the authors explain the significance of a small investment in enhancing the relationships among vocabularies, both metadata and domain‐specific, that yields a relatively large return on investment. Regarding management issue, Graves, Constabaris and Brickley conduct a case study on the friend of a friend (FOAF) that allows people to collaborate together on the semantic web. FOAF is considered an example of a tool for solving several problems of identity management. Part 2 concludes with two articles on the relation between the applicability of primary library functions and the semantic web (by Greenberg); and in the relation between the strengths of librarianship and the profession's ability to contribute to semantic web development (by Weibel).

The book has been carefully edited by Jane Greenberg (University of North Caroline) and Eva Mendez (Universidad Carlos III). In their conclusion both editors suggest that, if librarians transfer their skills to semantic knitting for a semantic web, they can help build a better web.

Librarians and information professionals, students and others who are associated with web design and applications can gain a great of understanding of semantic web development from this book, which is recommended for appropriate audiences.

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