Semantic Web – Internet Thy Future Beckons
April 1, 2008
Did you know about blogs some years ago? The answer is but obviously, “No”!
Will I be writing blogs, some years down the line? In the currently prevailing format, very unlikely!
What used to be just a one way flow of information between humans and machines (read computers) during the initial years of Internet or of Web 1.0, became an interactive medium for exchange of information between humans and machines with Web 2.0.
This evolution has now set its sight on a horizon where machines will not depend on humans to interpret any information available on Internet. And data will get enmeshed in the Web in such a way that it can be processed independently of application, platform, or domain.
This arrangement of data and documents would be such that machines can process, transform, assemble, and even act on the data in useful ways.
Consider the following scenario:
You’re having lunch while you are asked to rush to San Francisco for an emergency meeting with one of your biggest clients. You get hold of your hand held computer and instruct the Semantic Web agent to find out and book a non-stop flight to San Francisco that would land you in that city before 10 AM the next day. You also specify that you would prefer a window seat, a limo pick up at the airport, and a booking at your favorite hotel in San Francisco.
What happens next? Well, your agent pokes around the Semantic Web space and not only finds the instructed flight with an available window seat, but it books you a seat with the airline; books a room for you at your favorite hotel in San Francisco, gets you the lowest fare using your reward points; checks out the availability of limo services with good ratings and books an appointment to have you picked up half an hour after your flight lands. It does all this by using your credit card and putting the charge to your client’s account in your accounting application.
Next it goes through your next day’s appointment list and warns you that you’ll not be able to keep a dentist appointment. It also leaves a note in your calendar to remind you to reschedule the appointment and updates your calendar and your manager’s calendar with your trip information and prints out your confirmation documents back at your office.
All you have done during this time is take your lunch and click a few buttons and your flight, hotel, and car service have all been booked, your accounting system and calendars have been updated, your itinerary got compared to your calendar and you have been warned of the scheduling conflict with your dentist appointment. This appointment can also be rescheduled automatically by comparing yours’ and dentist’s schedules.
This is the future and potential of Semantic Internet.
But who on the earth is this Semantic Web agent? You must be wondering.
This Semantic Web agent is the future avatar of search engines for you, which searches for pin point information and services for you in the semantic web environment, and actually does the needful acting on the parameters defined by you. Let’s now discuss what exactly semantic web environment is.
Semantic Web is the vast database of integrated data of information and services written and stored using a standard semantics, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.
In the words of Tim Berners-Lee, the man behind World Wide Web,
“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.”
Semantic Web can be considered as “web of data” which collects the information making use of seemingly endless amount of integrated data on the World Wide Web and connects that information with data in other relational databases.
Now since relational databases are home to the majority of enterprise data today, Semantic Web technologies increases the amount of useful data available exponentially. The key to this lies in their ability to harness and exploit such databases besides making use of other data from Web sites, other databases, XML documents, and other systems
In short Semantic Web will solve the current problem – one set of data cannot be used by the other set of data without human intervention.
This said, Semantic Web technologies are still in experimental stage and can rightly be considered in their infancies. Though Internet seems to be heading in the above described direction, there seems to be little consensus about the likely direction and characteristics of the early Semantic Web.
Team Leader – Web Content