Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Semantic Web: It's the Latest Version of the World Wide Web. It Can 'Connect the Dots' between Data Points in Any Application in Any Language at Any Website-And Help You Create Knowledge out of Those Connections. and It's Coming to an Enterprise near You

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Semantic Web: It's the Latest Version of the World Wide Web. It Can 'Connect the Dots' between Data Points in Any Application in Any Language at Any Website-And Help You Create Knowledge out of Those Connections. and It's Coming to an Enterprise near You

Article excerpt

In December, internet technology elites from around the world gathered in Boston's Fairmont Copley Hotel to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This is the organization that has guided the growth of the world wide web, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML), other open standards of the internet--and its latest protege, the Semantic Web. Tim Berners-Lee is a cofounder of W3C and the principal architect of the world wide web and the Semantic Web. In 1990, Berners-Lee's proposal for a "world wide web" connecting documents from any source on the internet was implemented on a single server at the Swiss research lab where he worked. Today many millions of servers implement his dream.

Even in the earliest days of the web, Berners-Lee envisioned a system that gathered meanings along with documents. However, documents claimed a higher priority, so his vision of a web of meaning did not materialize until February 2004, when W3C announced final approval of the key standards of the Semantic Web. Berners-Lee was referring to both webs when he wrote in Weaving the Web (1999):

"I liked the idea that a piece of information is really defined only by what it's related to, and how it's related. There really is little else to meaning. The structure is everything."

Another central concept of the Semantic Web is that it should do more than simply fetch documents for human users to pore over, extract, cut and paste, and otherwise reformat to make them more precisely useful. Instead, the system should use languages that the system itself can "understand" and act upon. In turn, that will enable a user to dispatch software agents to search the entire web for that precisely useful data. Agents should also be able to process the data it finds as it prowls the web--using what it found at site A to direct it to site B. And while it's at it, an agent should be able to make inferences from the data it finds. Example: if it's dealing with a bank in a 9xxxx zip code, it can know that the bank is regulated by California codes and then go there to add new pertinent information that more fully satisfies the user's request.

Of course, not much of this "intelligent" behavior is possible today. However, W3C has laid the groundwork, and the Semantic Web concept is rapidly attracting evangelists who see applications in business, government, education, and in any community of internet users who want to share knowledge and collaborate on projects--it will all be possible over time. …

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