Knowledge Standards

When you start looking down the road five or six years, and you visualize how the information on the Web will begin to turn into one huge knowledge base (the "semantic Web"). For the latest on the semantic Web, visit

In the meantime, here are the fundamental standards you'll want to know about.


Resource Description Framework is a standard for defining metadata: information that describes what a particular data item is and specifies how it can be used. Used in conjunction with the XHTML specification, for example, or with HTML pages, RDF could be used to describe the content of the pages. For example, if your browser stored your ID information as FIRSTNAME, LASTNAME, and EMAIL, an RDF description could make it possible to transfer data to an application that wanted NAME and EMAILADDRESS. Just think: One day you may not need to type your name and address at every Web site you visit!

For the latest information on RDF, see

RDF Schema

RDF Schema allows the specification of consistency rules and additional information that describe how the statements in a resource description framework (RDF) should be interpreted.

For more information on the RDF Schema recommendation, see


XML topic maps are in many ways a simpler, more readily usable knowledge representation than RDF, and this standard is one worth watching. So far, RDF is the W3C standard for knowledge representation, but topic maps could possibly become the developer's choice among knowledge representation standards.

For more information on the XML Topic Maps standard, see For information on topic maps and the Web, see