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The Web is increasingly understood as a global information space consisting not just of linked documents, but also of linked data. The term Linked Data was coined by Tim Berners-Lee in his Linked Data Web architecture note. The goal of Linked Data is to enable people to share structured data on the Web as easily as they can share documents today. More specifically, Wikipedia defines Linked Data as “a term used to describe a recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge on the Semantic Web using .

More than just a vision, the Web of Data has been brought into being by the maturing of the Semantic Web technology stack, and by the publication of an increasing number of datasets according to the principles of Linked Data. Today, this emerging Web of Data includes data sets as extensive and diverse as DBpedia, Geonames, US Census, EuroStat, MusicBrainz, BBC Programmes, Flickr, DBLP, PubMed, UniProt, FOAF, SIOC, OpenCyc, UMBEL and Yago. The availability of these and many other data sets has paved the way for an increasing number of applications that build on Linked Data, support services designed to reduce the complexity of integrating heterogeneous data from distributed sources, as well as new business opportunities for start-up companies in this space.

The basic tenets of Linked Data are to:

  • use the RDF data model to publish structured data on the Web
  • use RDF links to interlink data from different data sources

Applying both principles leads to the creation of a data commons on the Web, a space where people and organizations can post and consume data about anything. This data commons is often called the Web of Data or Semantic Web.

In summary, Linked Data is simply about using the Web to create typed links between data from different sources. It is important to know that Linked Data is not the Semantic Web, it’s the basement for it.

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