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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Semantic Web Crash Course

I finally found a wonderfully terse, easy-to-follow "executive summary" (not exactly short, though) explaining How to publish Linked Data on the Web: In other words, how to make your site Semantic-Web-ready.

If you've struggled with trying to visualize how the various pieces of the Semantic Web fit together (all the RDF-based standards, for example), and you still feel as though you aren't quite grasping the big picture, go read How to publish Linked Data on the Web. It'll bring you up to speed fast. The authors deserve special mention (join me in a polite round of applause, if you will):
Chris Bizer (Web-based Systems Group, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
Richard Cyganiak (Web-based Systems Group, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
Tom Heath (Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
I hope vendors in the content-management space will get to work producing tools aimed at helping people implement "highly semantic sites" (tm). Search 2.0-and-up will rely heavily on linked data, and the advantages of a linked-data-driven Web in terms of enabling thousands of Web APIs to be conflated down to scores or hundreds will become apparent quickly once the ball starts rolling.


  1. Kas, there are lots of open-source tools in the content-management & publishing spaces, and there's lots of programming talent at universities and research institutions, yet many if not most of these proponents can't be bothered to apply semantic mark-up to their Web presences.

    Richard Cyganiak is an exception who practices what he preaches, but Tom Heath ( sure doesn't. Christian Bizer doesn't control the page I found about him at so I won't judge that case.

    I've written about this paradox before (e.g., and may again soon.

  2. Kas, I wrote up and posted my screed:

  3. Seth, that's a great post. A great read. Hard to disagree with any of it. Even if "magic tools" magically appear out of nowhere, it doesn't mean the Semantic Web is going to magically build itself. Right now, my gut is telling me that the social web (which thrives on mashability) will ultimately drive the coalescence of the semantic web. I'm still thinking it through. But that's how it feels to me right now; the semantic web will come together for reasons no one would have predicted five years ago.

  4. Seth: Tom has an excellent FOAF file, which is linked via RDF Autodiscovery in the HEAD section of his homepage (and via a cute little button in the sidebar). Chris also has a FOAF file at . There are different ways of deploying structured data on the web, you can do it inline in HTML (as I'm doing on my homepage, using the W3C's RDFa standard), or you can do it in separate stand-alone documents that you deploy beside the HTML (as Tom and Chris are doing). Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. I clearly prefer the inline method these days.

    There's a lot of effort underway to provide linked data export from popular content management system. My colleague Stéphane Corlosquet at DERI is adding RDFa support to the Drupal CMS, and I'm we'll see similar efforts for other platforms.

  5. seth: you've not seen then? Created by Tom Heath and full of RDF goodness!


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