March 9, 2005 8:11 AM PST
Next big step for the Web--or a detour?
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sharing. The consortium is calling for position papers by March 18 for its workshop on rule languages for interoperability, set for April 27-28 in Washington, D.C.
Even though crucial protocols are still in the idea phase, the W3C is insisting that the Web's next big evolutionary shift has already begun.
activity lead, W3C
The W3C's Miller devoted much of his keynote address--titled "The Semantic Web is Here"--to existing examples of Semantic Web technologies being developed or rolled out by major companies.
Nokia, for example, maintains long-standing Semantic Web activity of its own and has made its Semantic Web toolkit, known as Wilbur, available on the SourceForge.net open-source development site.
Miller hailed the way Nokia has used Semantic Web specifications, particularly RDF, or Resource Description Framework, in its Series 60 phones and in its developers' forum. In one of Miller's examples, RDF metadata, or data about data, lets phones communicate to Web sites about how much bandwidth they have. In another, RDF lets Nokia automatically serve pages individually tailored for developers of particular applications for certain phones.
Miller also cited other examples: HP's use of Semantic Web technologies in its work building an online education resource for the government of Singapore; the IBM Internet Technology Group's development of Semantic Web applications, especially those in the life sciences; Adobe's addition of RDF-based XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) in its Creative Suite, which Adobe says sits on more than 700,000 computers; and Oracle's inclusion of the RDF Network Data Model in its Oracle Database 10.2, due out later in the year.
Also during his keynote, Miller laid out plans to spread the Semantic Web religion. He said he plans to ask the W3C membership to endorse a working group devoted to Semantic Web education and communication, and he also plans a Semantic Web symposium for CTOs and CIOs June 22-24 at a yet-to-be-determined West Coast location.
After years of being called artificial-intelligence throwbacks with their heads in the clouds, Semantic Web backers point to these real-world implementations with evident satisfaction.
"The Semantic Web is starting to take off now," Berners-Lee said. "It is not yet so developed that (implementers) keep bumping into people doing related things yet--we are not yet really seeing the benefit of application areas being connected together in unexpected ways. But in certain areas, the critical mass has been passed. At the recent Semantic Web and life sciences workshop...there was serious excitement about the opportunities in integrating across life science disciplines, like genomics, proteomics, clinical trial and epidemiological data and so on."
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