A Reflection on the Structure and Process of the Web of Data

by   Marko A. Rodriguez, et al.

The Web community has introduced a set of standards and technologies for representing, querying, and manipulating a globally distributed data structure known as the Web of Data. The proponents of the Web of Data envision much of the world's data being interrelated and openly accessible to the general public. This vision is analogous in many ways to the Web of Documents of common knowledge, but instead of making documents and media openly accessible, the focus is on making data openly accessible. In providing data for public use, there has been a stimulated interest in a movement dubbed Open Data. Open Data is analogous in many ways to the Open Source movement. However, instead of focusing on software, Open Data is focused on the legal and licensing issues around publicly exposed data. Together, various technological and legal tools are laying the groundwork for the future of global-scale data management on the Web. As of today, in its early form, the Web of Data hosts a variety of data sets that include encyclopedic facts, drug and protein data, metadata on music, books and scholarly articles, social network representations, geospatial information, and many other types of information. The size and diversity of the Web of Data is a demonstration of the flexibility of the underlying standards and the overall feasibility of the project as a whole. The purpose of this article is to provide a review of the technological underpinnings of the Web of Data as well as some of the hurdles that need to be overcome if the Web of Data is to emerge as the defacto medium for data representation, distribution, and ultimately, processing.


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