Web Technologies. Now and tomorrow.
We cannot imagine today’s life without “Internet”. We have it on our computers and mobile devices, we use it for socializing, for work activities, to find any kind of information etc. Let’s have a look on what actually “Internet” is as a modern technology and how it has developed till now.
The formal proposal for the “Internet” or “World Wide Web” (WWW), and prototype software, were produced in 1990, and elaborated over the next few years. The basic idea is that a client application called a web browser obtains access to a document stored on another computer by sending a message, over the Internet, to a web server application, which sends back the source code for the document. Documents (or web pages) are written in the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which allows some spans to be marked as hyperlinks to a document at a specified location in the web, named using a Universal Resource Locator (URL). When the user clicks on a hyperlink, the browser finds the IP address associated with the URL, and sends a message to this IP address requesting the HTML file at the given location in the server’s file system; on receipt, this file is displayed in the browser.
From 1990, “Internet” evaluated in more stages. The image below shows how it was developed in the last 25 years.
Now let’s have a look on each stage, and see what are the differences:
Web 1.0 (static)
In 1993 came a turning point for the WWW with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser, which could display graphics as well as text. From that date, usage of the web grew rapidly, although most users operated only as consumers of content, not producers. During this early phase of web development, sometimes called Web 1.0, web pages were mostly static documents read from a server and displayed on a client, with no options for users to contribute content, or for content to be tailored to a user’s specific demands.
Web 2.0 (dynamic)
These Web 2.0 technologies have made possible a wide range of social web sites now familiar to everyone, including chat rooms, blogs, wikis, product reviews, e-markets, and crowdsourcing. The web user has now become capable of adding information to a web page, and in this way communicating not only with the server, but through the server with other clients as well.
Web 3.0 (semantic)
Collaborators developed proposals for a further stage of web development known as the Semantic Web. This far-reaching concept is partly implemented in the current stage of web development, sometimes called Web 3.0.
Until Web 3.0, existing web content was usable by people but not by computer applications. There were many computer applications available for tasks like planning, or scheduling, or analysis, but they worked only on data files in some standard logical format, not on information presented in natural language text. A person could plan an itinerary by looking at web pages giving flight schedules, hotel locations, and so forth, but it was not yet possible (then as now) for programs to extract such information reliably from text-based web pages. The initial aim of the Semantic Web is to provide standards through which people can publish documents that consist of data, or perhaps a mixture of data and text, so allowing programs to combine data from many datasets, just as a person can combine information from many text documents in order to solve a problem or perform a task.
By encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages, the Semantic Web aims at converting the current web, dominated by unstructured and semi-structured documents into a “web of data”.
The Semantic Web takes the solution further. It involves publishing in languages specifically designed for data: Resource Description Framework (RDF), Web Ontology Language (OWL), and Extensible Markup Language (XML). HTML describes documents and the links between them. RDF, OWL, and XML, by contrast, can describe arbitrary things such as people, meetings, or airplane parts.
At present we cannot see clearly what lies beyond Web 3.0, but we allow for future stages in Semantic Web development by including a loosely defined further stage “Web 4.0”.
Nowadays, many big companies already started to implement some web projects using newest technologies together with Semantic Web.
By far the most public usage of Semantic Web technologies is the website for the British Broadcasting Corporation (i.e., the BBC). In 2010, their entire World Cup website was powered by Semantic Web technologies. Even today, large portions of their public website are run on Semantic Web technologies.
The BBC is not the only media company that is using Semantic Web technologies. Time Inc., Elsevier, and the Library of Congress all also have production systems built using Semantic Web technologies.
Today, Semantic Web technologies are used for a wide range of applications, both on the Web and internally within various organizations. While Semantic Web usage on the Web is mostly about publishing and consuming data, Semantic Web technologies are also being applied within enterprises for a much broader set of applications.