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How Semantic Web Works

Tying it All Together

In our original example, we talked about buying "Star Wars" DVDs online. Here's how the Semantic Web could make the whole process easier:

  • Each site would have text and pictures (for people to read) and metadata (for computers to read) describing the DVDs available for purchase on their site.
  • The metadata, using RDF triples and XML tags, would make all the attributes of the DVDs (like condition and price) machine-readable.
  • When necessary, businesses would use ontologies to give the computer the vocabulary needed to describe all of these objects and their attributes. The shopping sites could all use the same ontologies, so all of the metadata would be in a common language.
  • Each site selling the DVDs would also use appropriate security and encryption measures to protect customers' information.
  • Computerized applications or agents would read all the metadata found at different sites. The applications could also compare information, verifying that the sources were accurate and trustworthy.

Of course, the Web is enormous, and adding all this metadata to existing pages is a huge undertaking. We'll look at this and some of the other potential hurdles for the Semantic Web next.