RDF and the Semantic Web Will Revolutionize Science

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In the beginning their was HTML. This is the basic language of the web. These documents aren't very exiting. HTML dictates how certain pieces of content are supposed to look. p tags for paragraphs, li for lists and so forth.

Then came XML. This has fueled the rise of Web 2.0. This is because XML is a web language that allows data to be easily passed from site to site. RSS is an example of this. When you subscrive to a feed, the data from that site is passed to your feed reader. This is great, but still lacks something. The problem is that the web site pulling in the XML doesn't know what it's reading. It's all raw data.

This is where RDF comes in. RDF can be easily accessed by other web sites and allows the easy exchange of data like XML, but adds something. RDF requires web developers to code information in triples. An example of a triple is "Venus is hot", or "leaves are green." Now, lets say another web sites encodes the triple "Venus is planet" Another web site can access this RDF data on both sites simultaneously with SPARQL (the query language for RDF data). The data is not only gathered, but the web site knows that "Venus" is not just a word. It nows that it is a "hot" "planet." The machine teaches the machine.

Get it? Now imagine the possibilities when thousands of web sites encode millions of pieces of information in RDF. This opens up the possibility to create some really powerful applications that would be impossible to replicate anywhere else.

Populate content management systems like Drupal are already starting to building in features that automatically encode user data and user generated content in an RDF format. This auto generated RDF will accelerate the amount of data in this format and generate a snowballing mass of RDF data and applications.