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[ontolog-forum] XML-Journal - XML, Ontologies, and the Semantic Web

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From: Leo Obrst <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 08:36:27 -0500
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If [computer networking] were a traditional science, Berners-Lee would win a Nobel Prize," Eric Schmidt, CEO of Novell, once commented. Indeed, Tim Berners-Lee revolutionized the world when he created the Web in 1991. Now, he is talking about the second generation of the Web, and his talks are generating buzz...the W3C is establishing standards for it, and universities, companies, and industry consortiums are building the technologies necessary for it. He refers to it as the Semantic Web.

The Semantic Web is envisaged as a place where data can be shared and processed by automated tools as well as by people. The key lies in the automation and integration of processes through machine-readable languages. In order to leverage and link the vast amounts of information available on the Web, software agents must be able to comprehend the information, i.e., the data must be written in machine-readable semantics. For example, whether I use the tag <dead> or the tag <alive> next to a person's name in my XML document makes no difference to the parser. Some additional semantics or metadata must be added in order for a software program to make an intelligent assessment of the state of the person. This metadata, or meaning (versus display), of information is what is known as semantics.

Let's consider an example illustrating the advantages of having semantics that add meaning to information on the Web. Say you live in New York and decide to attend a conference in London.

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2 Replies

Posted by sadas on Feb 13 @ 11:04 AM

Information System Ontologies
Posted by Bill Swartz on Feb 13 @ 12:32 PM

The article adds confusion, not insight, to the subject (herein abbreviated as ISO). In general, the author needs to learn more about the meanings of the terms data, metadata, information, concept, and knowledge. I admit that this is difficult - there is widespread confusion over the most useful meanings of these terms. But this state of affairs makes it even more important for authors in the popular press to do this hard work so they do not exacerbate the problem. Also, the author repeatedly confuses standard data and object modeling with the "new" semantic modeling. The reader who is familiar with ER modeling and OOAD is left with the impression that ISOs are fundamentally nothing new...

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Ayesha Malik

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Ayesha Malik is a senior consultant with Object Machines, a software engineering firm providing Java technology and XML solutions to businesses. She serves on the Architecture Working Group of Financial Products Markup Language (FpML), a data-interchange standard set forth by International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). Ayesha holds a BA with honors from Harvard University and an MS from Columbia University, where she studied operations research, applied mathematics, and computer science.

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Who should receive most credit for the ever-rising importance and status of XML today?
A- Charles F. Goldfarb
B- Tim Bray
C- Jon Bosak
D- W3C
E- Microsoft Corp.

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