The Semantic Web – An Introduction

The Semantic Web = a Web with a meaning.

“If HTML and the Web made all the online documents look like one huge book, RDF, schema, and inference languages will make all the data in the world look like one huge database” – Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, 1999

I attended a seminar on “The Semantic Web” a tech talk session organized by ACM at Computer Society of India, Bangalore chapter on 23rd Feb ’08. The session was presented by Geetha Manjunath a Senior Research Scientist at HP Labs, India with 17 years of research experience in System Software Design and Middleware Architectures.

This was my first time attending a tech talk session at CSI and had a bit of difficulty in finding the location. I entered at the right time. I am a n00b to Semantic Web, but heard holler in the press about it, and wanted to know what it’s all about.


Abstract: The Semantic Web is an emerging technology intended to
transform ‘documents’ on the World Wide Web into ‘knowledge’ that can be
processed by machines. While this is the vision of Tim Berners Lee, the
core technologies of Semantic Web can be used in many enterprise
applications today. RDF, RDFS and OWL – the building blocks of Semantic
Web – provide good models for knowledge representation to solve some
primary problems in data and application integration. The talk will give
an introduction to semantic web, ontologies and associated W3C standards
(RDF, OWL, SPARQL). It will also touch upon some existing and potential
enterprise s
olutions that can use semantic web and the associated
research opportunities.

Semantic: (Greek semantikos, giving signs, significant, symptomatic, from sema, sign) refers to the aspects of meaning that are expressed in a language, code, or other form of representation…

As I understood, Semantic Web is an extension of WWW wherein an attempt is made to define the meaning of information on the web so that the web content can be understood my Web/Machines/People acting as universal pool of information and knowledge.

At the heart of Semantic Web is RDF (Resource Description Framework) and several other terminologies and data formats. Being a n00b, I was trying to picture the entire concept with what I knew already about WWW and contrasting between Semantic and WWW. The audience was real energetic and knowledgeable. Micro formats, OWL, Ontology, URL, URI gossh…it was going bounces for me. But I adhered with the basics and tried to understand from a layman’s view. I had some questions:

1. When there are million’s of web pages, who is going to define and maintain the URI, to avoid duplication. Also to mention the integrity of the definition. (Ans: Swoogle.

2. How different are bots compared to Semantic web. As bots have the intelligence based on algorithms and read and extract information from web pages.

3. Information is wealth, we all know!! Since semantic web is so very promising, what’s the road block for it go live. What are the major hindrance for wide spread adaptation and what are the initiatives taken by W3C to promote it.

The session was very informative and interesting and it went on for almost two hours. I decided to explore more on the subject and will spend the next couple of weeks exploring in depth what Semantic web’s all about. Here are a few links to give you a head start.

Semantic Web — Altova Library

W3Scholl — Semantic Web

Amazon book’s

I will upload the presentation slides once they are mailed to me from ACM.

Happy exploring Semantic Web until then!!!

1 comment
  1. Happy to see that work regarding Semantic Web is taking off in India. I would like to see more of it and would like to be part of it. It is something that we have to enthusiastically be a part of and start developing in India. India being the country where we have the potential to influence the rest of the world – and trigger the semantic wave. Some of the reasons I see are

    – India is a developing country and we will be having a huge amount data/information being entered into the Web. If these are (or at least part of it) entered semantically then we leverage on the knowledge generated from it in future.

    – Although Semantic web has been around for some time – it unfortunately haven’t taken off that much. The research world and including the person who invented the Web and the director of W3C – Tim Berners-Lee swear by it. One of the reasons I feel this could be is because its not influencing a larger community. India having such a large number of people who understand IT and would easily correlate to the importance of Semantic and Ontology can definitely break this ice.

    – Semantics and Ontology are not restricted to the Internet alone. Its very much applicable to the enterprise level also. India produces the largest number of SOA apps catering the world. I hope this is good enough a reason for major India S/W companies to start pondering the concept

    Personally I am looking forward to meet and discuss with people who can potentially identify this opportunity and develop Semantic Web Apps.

    Have a look at this semantically feature enhance Wiki –

    Please mail me at


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