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Bringing the Semantic Web to Europe

Europe is making an important contribution to the Semantic Web initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, enriching blogging and portals with semantics.

Digital Economy

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) aspires to help the Internet reach its full potential. One of its lofty goals is the establishment of a common framework, the so-called Semantic Web, which targets even greater online collaboration between entities than exists today. The European Union is helping make the Semantic Web a reality by funding cutting edge research through the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme. One of the funded projects, SWAD-EUROPE, has demonstrated the added value of semantics in two key Internet domains: blogging and portals. The number of blogs, or weblogs, has risen sharply in recent years. This method of personal, web-based communication has clearly struck a cord with the online community. SWAD-EUROPE took ordinary blogging a step further, augmenting the existing format with semantics based on Resource Description Framework (RDF), which describes the blog's metadata using eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The result is enhanced query and navigation functionality. Portals are an important tool for Internet users in search of information, often focussed on a central theme. SWAD-EUROPE built upon existing platforms, again exploiting the universality of RDF and validating its advantages with respect to information exchange over the Internet. A Semantic Web Environmental Directory provided the basis for a trial of the new technology. Prototypes for both semantic blogging and the semantic portal were developed using the open source software approach. They can be combined to provide a complete, powerful information dissemination package. The SWAD-EUROPE consortium is pursuing further development and in some instances the technology is mature enough for commercialisation. Application in the field of knowledge management has also been targeted. Further details are available at: http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe/

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