In many ways all the standards efforts profiled
in this chapter can be seen as providing a foundation for the next
jump-shift in the Knowledge Economy, enabled by enhanced Internet
capabilities, in which far more can be done to exploit past and
future knowledge. In terms of key technology developments, there
are three large-scale R&D efforts underway: the Semantic Web,
the Grid and Internet2.
The Semantic Web
Tim Berners-Lee provided the original vision and follow-through
to invent the Web as we know it. Together with other members of
the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C), he is also providing the vision for extending
it to new capability (Berners-Lee, Tim, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila.
Scientific American, 2001).
Known as the Semantic Web, this extended capability
will deliver better access to richer content, as well as mechanisms
to extend automation and ensure trust. The term semantic
is used to indicate the importance assigning contextual meaning
to information to enable effective knowledge exchange.
The Semantic Web will rely upon encoded meaning
in its information structures and the relationships between
information. The key technology supporting this initiative is the
Resource Description Framework (RDF), a "language" specifically
designed to support the sharing of metadata and information enriched
by it. The widespread implementation of RDF will therefore facilitate
the growth of new value chains in both information and knowledge.
The Semantic Web Improves Productivity of People
and Networks. Why is this important? Most of the uses of
intelligent agents and knowledge searching described in the vignettes
in Chapter 2 are enabled by the Semantic Web. This can make knowledge
workers far more productive than today. Consider the following extension
of one of our vignettes:
Conrad Elliott wishes to enrich a seminar he
is giving next week on applications of ambient technology to professional