Linked Data and the Semantic Web

What is the Semantic Web?

The World Wide Web of today is primarily a web of documents. It was developed by Tim Berners-Lee as a way for scientists in his area of study (he was a physicist at the Swiss laboratory CERN) to share documents. Before that, sharing of documents as well as software and other resources on the Internet was done by placing the files on an FTP server and letting people know (often using email) where the files existed and what they were named. There was no capability to create links between files. The Web changed all of that, and the creation of the browser, which allows us to "see" the Web. Although the web today is much more than scientific articles -- pages have images, video, sound -- it is still a web of documents, and of links that simply mean "link."

web of documents

The Semantic Web is a web of data. It is a way to put data directly onto the Web or to activate data within Web documents. By data we mean things like: places (their names and coordinates), television program listings (titles, dates and times, producers), music catalogs (names, composers, performers), people (biographical and contact information). These discrete facts serve as contact points between Web resources. A Wikipedia page about a person and a BBC program about that person can be connected through the data point for that person. Today this could be done by creating a link by hand; in the Semantic Web this would happen because the two would share the same data point.

web of data

The Semantic Web also adds meaning to the links. Where in the Web of documents there is only one type of link and it means only "link," the Semantic Web creates links with meaning. Rather than simply creating a link between a person and a book, you can specify that the person is the author of the book, or the subject of the book, or the owner of the book.