Looking at the world-wide web, extranets and company intranets, we see that most information has rapidly been brought to the digital world. This has resulted in a huge amount of content made available in your webbrowsers. Search engines make it possible for humans to search all this content and, if found, use it our daily activities . Humans can read this content in their browsers and determine if its relevant or not. But what if we directly want to use this content in our business or web applications? What is we don't want to search and hopefully find an answer but directly want to question this information for the answers? This means that we want to be able to query the information, instead of searching the information. If we really want to make the content directly available to humans or other applications and link together all this information, we need a more structural and flexible approach to transform our content into knowledge.
Content + Semantics → Knowledge
What is lacking our content from using it as knowledge in our applications? The keyword here is semantics. But what is semantic? Content that has semantics means exactly the same thing to any system or person who uses it (within your company, your supply chain, your branch or eventually the whole internet). In specific expert applications, semantics are implemented in the business logic of that application, specifically for the functionality of that application. The success of this approach has been limited to specific areas. By adding semantics to our content in a structural, semantics of the content are available to any application that wants to use it. The latest w3c standards that define the semantic web share this focus on knowledge and semantics and enable this approach.
Semantics captured by ontologies
Semantics of content can be captured using so called ontologies. An ontology is a formal representation of knowledge as a set of concepts within a domain, and the relationships between those concepts. It is not only used describe the domain but also to reason about the entities within that domain. In the real world, different ontologies within the same domain are used. Even within different departments of the same company, implicitly different ontologies are used. Ontologies can be used to both formalise the semantics but also to integrate or map different ontologies, offering a basis for semantic integration and interlinking of content.
The w3c consortium has defined a number of standards for content and semantics. These standards have emerged from the semantic web standardisation effort and are extremely useful for modelling semantics. The relevant standards are:
- OWL, Web Ontology Language (http://www.w3.org/TR/owl2-overview/).. OWL provides a language to define ontologies. Most ontologists also make their ontologies available in OWL, enabling re-use and technology independence.
- HTML5 (http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html). One the most interesting enhancements of HTML5 is the ability to assign semantics in terms of OWL to html-formatted content using RDFa (http://www.w3.org/TR/rdfa-in-html/).
- SPARQL, RDF query language, (http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-sparql-query/). When semantics have been assigned to content, the resulting knowledge-base can be queried using SPARQL.
Using these open standards, many ontologies like the Dublin Core, Skos and Foaf have become standards of their own. These can easily be reused in other ontologies. Semantic Publishing build its solution on these open standards.
Roadmap from content to knowledge
The transition from content to knowledge cannot be made overnight. In many cases, a lot of semantics are available available for the content, but just not published as part of the content. The semantics needed for more advanced business processes are just not part of the content en we need to adapt the content creation process to incorporate these semantics. Adding semantics to content needs a roadmap, starting from what is available adding more and more semantics in future, enabling more and more added-value functionality to the users of the content. We can help you to start that roadmap today.