W3C Semantic Web Activity

The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by W3C with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF). See also the separate FAQ for further information.

Further links

Latest news: See the activity weblog

Latest “layercake” diagram: in SVG, PNG, and small sized (300×315) PNG formats.


The Semantic Web is a web of data. There is lots of data we all use every day, and its not part of the web. I can see my bank statements on the web, and my photographs, and I can see my appointments in a calendar. But can I see my photos in a calendar to see what I was doing when I took them? Can I see bank statement lines in a calendar?

Why not? Because we don't have a web of data. Because data is controlled by applications, and each application keeps it to itself.

The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from diverse sources, where on the original Web mainly concentrated on the interchange of documents. It is also about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects. That allows a person, or a machine, to start off in one database, and then move through an unending set of databases which are connected not by wires but by being about the same thing.


You may want to look at the collection of SW Case Studies and Use Cases to see how organizations are using these technologies today.

RDF Button Resource Description Framework (RDF):
GRDDL Button Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages (GRDDL):
SPARQL Button SPARQL Query Language for RDF:
OWL Button Web Ontology Language (OWL):

See also the list of translations for RDF, SPARQL, GRDDL, and OWL.

Publications / Articles / Interviews

The following is a partial list of various publications and or interviews by the W3C Staff that help explain the goals and objectives of the Semantic Web.

See the archive for earlier entries on this list.


Details of recent and upcoming Semantic Web related talks, given by the W3C Staff, the staff of the W3C Offices, and members of the W3C Working Groups are available separately. A list of all Semantic Web related talks since 2004 is also available. References to a small subset of these presentations are provided here for convenience. (Note: some of the presentation use the Slidy tool which should run in all moder browsers with Javascript enabled. Unfortunately, some of the browsers may have difficulties.)


The following groups are part of the Semantic Web Activity.

Active Groups

Semantic Web Coordination Group

The Semantic Web Coordination Group is tasked to provide a forum for managing the interrelationships and interdependencies among groups focusing on standards and technologies that relate to this goals of the Semantic Web Activity. This group is designed to coordinate, facilitate and (where possible) help shape the efforts of other related groups to avoid duplication of effort and fragmentation of the Semantic Web by way of incompatible standards and technologies.

Rules Interchange Format Working Group

This Working Group is chartered to produce a core rule language plus extensions which together allow rules to be translated between rule languages and thus transferred between rule systems. The Working Group will have to balance the needs of a community diverse including Business Rules and Semantic users Web specifying extensions for which it can articulate a consensus design and which are sufficiently motivated by use cases.

OWL Working Group

The mission of the OWL Working Group, is to produce a W3C Recommendation that refines and extends the 2004 version of OWL. The proposed extensions are a small set that: have been identified by users as widely needed, and have been identified by tool implementers as reasonable and feasible extensions to current tools.

Semantic Web Deployment Working Group

The mission of this Working Group is to provide guidance in the form of W3C Technical Reports on issues of practical RDF development and deployment practices in the areas of publishing vocabularies, OWL usage, and integrating RDF with HTML documents.

This group is also responsible for the development of the RDFa and SKOS specifications.

Semantic Web Interest Group

The Semantic Web Interest Group is a forum for W3C Members and non-Members to discuss innovative applications of the Semantic Web. The Interest Group also initiates discussion on potential future work items related to enabling technologies that support the Semantic Web, and the relationship of that work to other activities of W3C and to the broader social and legal context in which the Web is situated.

Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group

The Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group is designed to improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation adoption in the health care and life science industries. Aiding decision-making in clinical research, Semantic Web technologies will bridge many forms of biological and medical information across institutions.

Semantic Web Education and Outreach Interest Group

The Semantic Web Education and Outreach Interest Group (SWEO) is chartered to collect proof-of-concept business cases, demonstration prototypes, etc, based on successful implementations of Semantic Web technologies, collect user experiences, develop and facilitate community outreach strategies, training and educational resources. The goal includes bringing together leaders in organizations using and/or interested in applying Semantic Web technologies to the enterprise. The focus of the IG is informational in nature, rather than technical specifications.

Completed Groups

The following groups have completed their deliverables and are no longer expected to hold regular meetings.

Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages Working Group

The mission of this Working Group was to complement the concrete RDF/XML syntax with a mechanism to relate other XML syntaxes (especially XHTML dialects or “microformats”) to the RDF abstract syntax via transformations identified by URIs.

RDF Data Access Working Group

The focus of the RDF Data Access Working Group was to evaluate the requirements for an query language and network protocol for RDF and define formal specifications and test cases for supporting such requirements.

Past Groups

RDF Core Working Group

The RDF Core Working Group was chartered to consider update to the RDF Model and Syntax Recommendation, and to a few revisions to the RDF Schema specification.

Web Ontology Working Group

The Web Ontology Working Group was chartered to build upon the RDF Core work a language for defining structured web based ontologies which will provide richer integration and interoperability of data among descriptive communities.

Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group

The focus of the Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group was to provide hands-on support for developers of Semantic Web applications.

Valid XHTML + RDFa

Members of the W3C Semantic Web Activity are: Tim Berners-Lee, Dan Connolly , Sandro Hawke, Ivan Herman, Eric Prud'hommeaux, and Ralph Swick

Ivan Herman, (W3C) Semantic Web Activity Lead, <ivan@w3.org> 2008-02-19

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