Everyone talks about it, but no one seems to know what it is. The best official description is in Tim Berners-Lee's book Weaving the Web. He also wrote a rough roadmap in September 1998. Later, he gave speech at XML 2000. Daniel Brickley prefers to take the long view, looking at the similarites with Tim Berners-Lee's original plan for the Web. Sean Palmer maintains a list of interesting Semantic Web resources. Edd Dumbill also wrote his views as well as a Semantic Web Primer. Scientific American* recently ran a very good Semantic Web article written by some of the top people involved: James Hendler*, Ora Lassila* and Tim Berners-Lee.
Sandro Hawke has a clear and concise piece called the Semantic Web (Put Simply) that explains what the Semantic Web is with a minimum of hype.
Back in the practical realm, the Intent of Work statement from MIT*/LCS*/W3C is rather interesting as is the Semantic Web Advanced Development (SWAD).
I'm currently working on a short essay: The Semantic Web In Breadth which I hope will help explain the Semantic Web. I appreciate comments and suggestions.
For those of you very short on time, the Semantic Web is about the connections between URIs.
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