W3C Issues Resource Description Framework Model, Syntax Spec

The World Wide Web Consortium Wednesday issued the Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax specification as an official W3C Recommendation.

A W3C Recommendation means the specification “is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership.” It is important to the Internet community because, according to Tim Berners-Lee, W3C director and founder of the World Wide Web, the “RDF provides the necessary foundation and infrastructure to support the description and management of (the Web’s) data. RDF can transform the Web into a more useful and powerful information resource.”

Metadata has been described as “data about data.” A good example of Metadata would be the Library of Congress’ card catalog, as it accurately describes the documents and books (i.e. “data”) contained with the Library of Congress.

Within the context of the RDF specification, this is equal to “data describing Web resources.” Potential examples of RDF metadata that will be exchanged could include “Title,” “Author,” “Publisher” and “Format.”

RDF would provide the “backbone” that would enable the automated processing of Web resources. RDF has many potential application uses, and could be used:

  • For resource discovery to provide enriched search engine capabilities
  • For cataloging for describing the content and content relationships available at a particular Web site, page, or digital library
  • By intelligent software agents to enable knowledge sharing and exchange
  • For content rating
  • To describe collections of pages that represent a single logical “document”
  • To describe intellectual property rights of Web pages
  • To express a user’s privacy preferences or the privacy policies of a Web site

RDF utilizes the XML to define the foundation for processing metadata. Since XML is a good method of transporting data on the Web (with prior agreement on the specific form of the data to be transported), RDF layers on top of XML as a more generic form for a wide category of data. When the XML data is in the RDF format, applications will be able to interpret much of the data without prior arrangements, unlike standard XML.

For additional information about RDF, visit the W3C’s RDF area.

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