The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today releases the Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax specification as a W3C Recommendation, representing cross-industry and expert community agreement on a wide range of features for using and providing metadata on the Web. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who favor its adoption by the industry. Metadata is “data about data.” For example, a library catalog is metadata, since it describes publications or specifically in the context of this specification “data describing Web resources”. The distinction between “data” and “metadata” is not an absolute one; it is a distinction created primarily by a particular application, and many times the same resource will be interpreted in both ways simultaneously. Examples of metadata that will be exchanged using RDF include “Title”, “Author” (or “Creator”), “Publisher”, and “Format”. RDF provides interoperability between applications that exchange machine-understandable information on the Web. RDF emphasizes facilities to enable automated processing of Web resources. RDF can be used in a variety of application areas; for example: in resource discovery to provide better search engine capabilities, in cataloging for describing the content and content relationships available at a particular Web site, page, or digital library, by intelligent software agents to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange, in content rating, in describing collections of pages that represent a single logical “document”, describing intellectual property rights of Web pages, and for expressing the privacy preferences of a user as well as the privacy policies of a Web site. RDF with digitally signed documents will be key to building the “Web of Trust” for electronic commerce, collaboration, and other applications. RDF uses XML to define a foundation for processing metadata and complements XML. Whereas XML can be used as a general way to transport data on the Web given prior agreement between the parties on the specific form of the data to be transported, RDF layers on top of XML a general form for a broad category of data. When the XML data is declared to be of the RDF format, applications will be able to understand much of the interpretation of the data without prior arrangement. www.w3c.org
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