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Why Semantic Web Technology Will Have a Major Impact on Electronic Commerce June 30, 2011

Posted by shuliuls in Summer 2011 1st Session.

The semantic web comprises the standards and tools of XML, RDF, RDF Schema and OWL that are organized in the semantic web technology.

In my opinion, XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and it’s a markup language much like HTML. XML was designed to transport and store data, not to display data. We need to define our own tags because XML tags are not predefined; RDF, which extends XML, defines a general common data model that adheres to web principles. RDF provides a consistent, standardized way of describing and querying Internet resources, from text pages and graphics to audio files and video clips. It gives syntactic interoperability, and provides the base layer for building a semantic web. RDF defines a directed graph of relationships; RDF schema allows a designer to define and publish the vocabulary used by an RDF data model. Both RDF and RDF-Schema are based on XML and XML-Schema. The existence of standards for describing data and data attributes enables the development of a set of readily available tools to read and exploit data from multiple sources; OWL is a Web Ontology language. It is designed for use by applications that need to process the content of information instead of just presenting information to humans. OWL facilitates greater machine interpretability of Web content than that supported by XML, RDF, and RDF Schema by providing additional vocabulary along with a formal semantics.

The application I pick is electronic commerce and I think semantic web technology will have a major impact on electronic commerce. Bringing electronic commerce to its full potential requires a P2P approach. Anybody must be able to trade and negotiate with anybody else. However, such an open and flexible method for electronic commerce has to deal with many obstacles before it becomes a reality.

Mechanized support is needed in finding and comparing vendors and their offers. Currently, nearly all of this work is done manually which seriously hampers the scalability of electronic commerce. Semantic web technology can make it a different story: machine-processable semantics of information allow the mechanization of these tasks. In addition, mechanized support is needed in dealing with numerous and heterogeneous data formats. Various “standards” exist on how to describe products and services, product catalogues and business documents. Semantic web technology is required to define such standards better and to map between them. Efficient bridges between different terminologies are essential for openness and scalability.

Shu Liu



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