This blog post originally appeared on Haphazard.Business blog on 31 July 2022
The Semantic Web is an extension of the World Wide Web (www). Whereas the www has been built for humans to read, the Semantic Web is for machines to read. The Semantic Web works by using Linked Data. The Fourth Portal will introduce Linked Data concepts to encourage members, clients and suppliers to consider how the Semantic Web could apply to their work.
The Fourth Portal is a new kind of hybrid cafe-bar work and meeting space that introduces the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There will be innovative tools for visitors and members to access. One such tool will be Annalist, developed by computer engineer Graham Klyne. Annalist will be used to introduce linked data and the potential it offers.
Annalist is a software system for individuals and small groups to reap the benefits of using Linked Data. It presents a flexible web interface for creating, editing and browsing different types of data without requiring the user to understand computer jargon or perform any computer programming. It has been particularly effective in exploring and rapid prototyping designs for linked data on the web, covering science and humanities research, creative art and personal information.
For Fourth Portal, we will experiment with Annalist using different approaches. Experiments will include developing a stock provenance system and providing information on famous inventors and social and business innovators.
Image: Wikidata in the Linked Open Data Cloud. Databases indicated as circles (with wikidata indicated as ‘WD’), with grey lines linking databases in the network if their data is aligned.
What is Linked Data?
The text below is the words of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, written in 2007. It provides a simple introduction to what the Semantic Web is and how it works. Descriptions of the abbreviation with a link to more information included for ease of reading. Press the link for the full text: https://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html
Linked Data by Tim Berners-Lee
‘The Semantic Web isn’t just about putting data on the web. It is about making links, so that a person or machine can explore the web of data. With linked data, when you have some of it, you can find other, related, data.
Like the web of hypertext, the web of data is constructed with documents on the web. However, unlike the web of hypertext, where links are relationships anchors in hypertext documents written in HTML, for data they links between arbitrary things described by RDF (Resource Description Framework). The URIs (Universal Resource Identifier) identify any kind of object or concept. But for HTML or RDF, the same expectations apply to make the web grow:
Use URIs as names for things Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names. When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information, using the standards (RDF*, SPARQL) Include links to other URIs. so that they can discover more things.
I’ll refer to the steps above as rules, but they are expectations of behavior. Breaking them does not destroy anything, but misses an opportunity to make data interconnected. This in turn limits the ways it can later be reused in unexpected ways. It is the unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the web. [Read more on the 4 steps here]
Linked data is essential to actually connect the semantic web. It is quite easy to do with a little thought and becomes second nature. Various common sense considerations determine when to make a link and when not to.
The Tabulator client (running in a suitable browser) allows you to browse linked data using the above conventions, and can be used to check that your linked data works.’
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Annalist is open source and is available to try at the Fourth Portal. Read more about Tim Berners-Lee's vision here.