The idea of hyperlinks has driven the Internet for a very long time now. Hyperlinks have actually done a wonderful job in bringing together information from all realms of life and integrating it in one place, the World Wide Web as we call it. However, what we see with the web today is structured text with multimedia objects such as images and interactive forms- what we can call information, but unstructured information.
The reason I am talking about all this web, structured information, and hyperlinks here today is because of the last few classes spent by my Professor disussing Semantic Web. Now, as my Prof puts it, today's web is primarily documenting almost everything that is available. What it is not capable of doing is the automation of data and information processing. So, in other words, with the World Wide Web today, people really know what the hyperlink means, but a machine cannot understand what the link means and how is it actually "linked" to the other document.
Semantic Web today is being seen as a solution to this as it would add logic to the Web, use rules to make inferences, decide actions and answer questions by providing a framework that allows data sharing and reuse across application, enterprise, and communities. As the founder of the Web, Berners-Lee, puts it, "The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation."
But after what I have been hearing about all this metadata, ontologies,and stuff from him, at first go, I am not overly taken by this idea. The reason I say this is beacuse I think that the true context of the information can never be captured with the data and we are actually dependent on forms of human intervention for derivation of meaning and context! Now as I say this, I also realize that with my really restricted knowledge about all those research groups and their work on realizing a Semantic Web, these first impressions may really not be the correct ones!