The Semantic Web Revisited

Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall

Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall, The Semantic Web Revisited, IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(3):96-101, March 2006.

The original Scientific American article on the Semantic Web appeared in 2001. It described the evolution of a Web that consisted largely of documents for humans to read to one that included data and information for computers to manipulate. The Semantic Web is a Web of actionable information — information derived from data through a semantic theory for interpreting the symbols. This simple idea, however, remains largely unrealized. Shopbots and auction bots abound on the Web, but these are essentially handcrafted for particular tasks; they have little ability to interact with heterogeneous data and information types. Because we haven't yet delivered large-scale, agent-based mediation, some commentators argue that the Semantic Web has failed to deliver. We argue that agents can only flourish when standards are well established and that the Web standards for expressing shared meaning have progressed steadily over the past five years. Furthermore, we see the use of ontologies in the e-science community presaging ultimate success for the Semantic Web — just as the use of HTTP within the CERN particle physics community led to the revolutionary success of the original Web. This article is part of a special issue on the Future of AI.


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