We are in the midst of a revolutionary change in the development, implementation and use of information and communication technologies. Web technologies are shifting from rendering information in a format for human interpretation, towards providing an automated environment for delivering a wide variety of e-commerce and business-to-business services and applications.
Such services and applications will communicate and interoperate in a world composed of Web-accessible programs and databases, and interface wirelessly with many smart devices and sensors. These shifts have the potential to change significantly the way we communicate, co-operate, and organize our commercial and personal relationships.
The Semantic Web is fundamental to enabling the services and applications outlined above by providing a universally accessible platform that allows data to be shared and processed by automated tools, and by providing the machine-understandable semantics of data and information that will enable automatic information processing and exchange.
Experts have already developed a range of mark-up frameworks and languages, notably the revised Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) which mark the emergence of the Semantic Web as a broad-based, commercial-grade platform. However, much work remains to be done for upper layers of the Semantic Web, which are considerable research challenges.
Complementary to the Semantic Web, Web Services are a new breed of application. They are self-contained, self-describing, modular applications that perform anything from simple requests to complex business processes, which can be accessed across and via the Web. Web services can significantly increase the potential of the Web’s architecture by providing a way of automated program communication, discovery and invocation of services.