Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The first pages of the Semantic Web? (1998), and Web2.0?

I guess everybody now and then performs an “ego search” or “ego surf”, to see what search engines give back by typing in your name and then navigating to those pages. In my case, since more than 10 years, “Richard Benjamins” gives my (old) homepage of the University of Amsterdam, where I worked between 1989 and 2000 (with temporal yearly stays at universities in Sao Paulo, Paris and Barcelona), until I joined iSOCO. Today, Google still gives the same result: (sometimes a bit frustrating, where is the (Google) impact of my current work? :-).

Since I left the University of Amsterdam, I have had no access to my former homepage, so I have not been able to make any changes. At the bottom of the page you can read: “This page was last updated on 12/08/1998.” Almost 10 years ago! At the beginning, I was annoyed that I could not update the page. However, now I am actually quite happy that the page hasn’t changed since then, because it may qualify for the oldest Semantic Web page still accessible on the web (even though I think that Jim Hendler’s semantically annotated homepage appeared even earlier).

To check the “semantic webness” of the page, view the source code of the following pages:

The home page: You will see tags in the html code “onto” that represent the semantics of terms appearing on the web page.

<a onto="page[firstName=body]">Richard</a>
<a onto="page[lastName=body]">Benjamins </a>
<A HREF="" onto="page[affiliation=body]"target="_top">
Dept. of Social Science Informatics (SWI)</A>
<A HREF="" onto="page[email=href]">

Or the publication page:

A semantic annotation for a book publication:

<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name:Book"> </a>
<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[editor=body]"> Enric Plaza</a>,
<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[editor=href]"
Richard Benjamins </a> (Editors),
<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[title=body]"> LNAI 1319:
Knowledge Acquisition, Modeling and Management.
Proceedings of the 10th EKAW. </a>
<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[publisher=body]"> Springer-Verlag</a>,
<a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[year=body]">1997</a>. <P>

Or on the projects page:
onto="href:Project" onto="page[worksAtProject=href]">
Cordis entry of Using a Library with Reusable Problem-Solving
Methods to Configure Flexible and Robust Problem Solvers</A>

All those terms are (or were) specified in an ontology that was located somewhere else on a server, in this case in Karlsruhe at the AIFB institute.

This was at the time that XML began to become popular, and way before RDF and OWL came into existence. The project was called (KA)2: Knowledge Acquisition for the Knowledge Acquisition Community. How it works (or worked) can be read in:

V. R. Benjamins, D. Fensel, S. Decker and A. Gomez Perez: (KA)2: Building Ontologies for the Internet: a Mid Term Report. In the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 51:687-712, 1999, of which an extra official version can be found at here.

This was -to my knowledge- the first European Semantic Web project, whose idea was born at IJCAI 1997 in Nagoya, Japan during a train trip from Nagoya to Kyoto which I made with Dieter Fensel.

A lighter version of the paper can be accessed at the former so-called Banff Workshops, in 1998: V. Richard Benjamins and Dieter Fensel, Community is Knowledge! in (KA)2. I guess that should be one of the first papers on Web2.0, in 1998 :-)



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