Chapter 2. The Semantic Web, RDF, and Linked Data (and SPARQL)

SPARQL is a query language for data that follows a particular model, but the semantic web isn’t about the query language or about the model—it’s about the data. The booming amount of data becoming available on the semantic web is making great new kinds of applications possible, and as a well-implemented, mature standard designed with the semantic web in mind, SPARQL is the best way to get that data and put it to work in your applications.

What Exactly Is the “Semantic Web”?

As excitement over the semantic web grows, some vendors use the phrase to sell products with strong connections to the ideas behind the semantic web, and others use it to sell products with weaker connections. This can be confusing for people trying to understand the semantic web landscape.

I like to define the semantic web as a set of standards and best practices for sharing data and the semantics of that data over the web for use by applications. Let’s look at this definition one or two phrases at a time, and then we’ll look at these issues in more detail.

A set of standards

Before Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, more powerful hypertext systems were available, but he built his around simple specifications that he published as public standards. This made it possible for people to implement his system on their own (that is, to write their own web servers, web browsers, and especially web pages), and his system grew to become the biggest one ...

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