March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Interactions: Description

An Introduction to the Semantic Web for Museums

Mike Lowndes, The Natural History Museum, United Kingdom

The future Web is an unknown country. Whatever we propose today, the reality will very likely be different. Technology progresses and conceptual thought keeps playing catch-up. Today's Web is a very messy place, and for the most part it is still a 'pull technology' - you have to go find it. A key part of the Web, hyperlinks, are 'dumb' - they don't necessarily tell you anything about themselves, or check that they're still valid. Yet the current most popular way of exploring the Web — Google — relies on links, mostly human-made ones. There has to be a better way. Many years ago it was realised that 'data about data' or metadata could help by providing short descriptions of content that both machines and humans can work with. In the context of the Web, this idea developed into the Semantic Web, first proposed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1998 (Berners-Lee 1998). The mini-workshop will form an introduction to the Semantic Web for those who desire to learn more, but have been too afraid to ask. It is supported by this review of the main thrusts of current work, without getting too technical. Museums have some of the best, most valuable content on the Web, and have the expertise to make it self-describing. We should take the lead in development of the Semantic Web and strive toward a greater signal to noise ratio for the future global audience.

Mini-Workshop: Semantic Web [Technology]

Keywords: semantic Web, review, RDF, Web 2.0, ontology, W3C