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Michael C. Daconta
I would like to thank my coauthors, Mike and Leo. Because of your hard work, more people will understand the promise of the Semantic Web. This is the third book that I have written with Mike, and it has been a pleasure working with him. Thanks to Dan Hulen of Dominion Digital, Inc. and Andy Stross of CapitalOne, who were reviewers of some of the content in this book. Once again, it was a pleasure to do work with Bob Elliott and Emilie Herman at Wiley. I would also like to thank Ashland Coffee and Tea, where I did much caffeine-inspired writing for this book on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Virtual Knowledge Base (VKB) program has been instrumental in helping Mike and me focus on the Semantic Web and bringing this vision and a forward-thinking solution to the government. Because of the hard work of Ted Wiatrak, Danny Proko, Clay Richardson, Don Avondolio, Joe Broussard, Becky Smith, and many others, this team has been able to do great things.
I would like to thank Gwen, who is the most wonderful wife in the world!
Kevin T. Smith
I would like to express my appreciation for the encouragement and support in the writing of this book that I've received from many individuals, including my colleague David Ferrell, my wife Christy (who tolerated my self-exile well), and the anonymous reviewers. I also note that the views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of The MITRE Corporation or any other company or individual.
Leo J. Obrst
The World Wide Web has dramatically changed the availability of electronically accessible information. The Web currently contains around 3 billion static documents, which are accessed by over 500 million users internationally. At the same time, this enormous amount of data has made it increasingly difficult to find, access, present, and maintain relevant information. This is because information content is presented primarily in natural language. Thus, a wide gap has emerged between the information available for tools aimed at addressing these problems and the information maintained in human-readable form.
In response to this problem, many new research initiatives and commercial enterprises have been set up to enrich available information with machine-processable semantics. Such support is essential for "bringing the Web to its full potential." Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, referred to the future of the current Web as the Semantic Web—an extended web of machine-readable information and automated services that amplify the Web far beyond current capabilities. The explicit representation of the semantics underlying data, programs, pages, and other Web resources will enable a knowledge-based Web that provides a qualitatively new level of service. Automated services will improve in their capacity to assist humans in achieving their goals by "understanding" more of the content on the Web, and thus providing more accurate filtering, categorizing, and searching of these information sources. This process will ultimately lead to an extremely knowledgeable system that features various specialized reasoning services. These services will support us in nearly all aspects of our daily life, making access to information as pervasive, and necessary, as access to electricity is today.
When my colleagues and I started in 1996 with academic prototypes in this area, only a few other initiatives were available at that time. Step by step we learned that there were initiatives like XML and RDF run by the W3C.1 Today the situation is quite different. The Semantic Web is already established as a research and educational topic at many universities. Many conferences, workshops, and journals have been set up. Small and large companies realize the potential impact of this area for their future performance. Still, there is a long
1I remember the first time that I was asked about RDF, I mistakenly heard "RTF" and was quite surprised that "RTF" would be considered a proper standard for the Semantic Web.
The Semantic Web
way to go in transferring scientific ideas into a widely used technology— and The Semantic Web: A Guide to the Future of XML, Web Services, and Knowledge Management will be a cornerstone for this transmission process. Most other material is still very hard to read and understand. I remember that it took me two months of my time to understand what RDF and RDFS are about. This book will enable you to understand these technologies even more thoroughly within two hours. The book is an excellent introduction to the core topics of the Semantic Web, its relationship with Web services, and its potential in application areas such as knowledge management. It will help you to understand these topics efficiently, with minimal consumption of your limited, productive time.
Dr. Dieter Fensel Professor
Institute for Computer Science University of Innsbruck
What Is the Semantic Web?