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The social semantic Web
Breslin J., Passant A., Decker S., Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, New York, NY, 2009. 300 pp. Type: Book (978-3-642011-71-9)
Date Reviewed: Sep 14 2010

The Web contributes greatly to many aspects of our lives. Over the last decade, it has changed from the global information database to a space for interaction and a platform for enriching content by automatic reasoning, based on added semantics. This change is still underway and is known as the evolution of the social Web and the semantic Web. Nowadays, a lot of effort is expended on the integration of these two. To my knowledge, this is the first book that concentrates on the integration of social aspects of the Web with attempts to enrich the Web with semantics, in order to allow “understanding” by machines. The publication of such a book also indicates that the field has reached maturity, as discussions, blogs, descriptions of applications, and papers evolved into a book.

The order of words in the book’s title is important. The book focuses mainly on the social Web and possibilities of its integration with the semantic Web. The integration is viewed from two perspectives: employing the semantics and its representation mechanisms to describe social Web elements such as people, the content, and links, and utilizing the semantic Web as a platform for the interconnection of the objects--the content and people. The authors also consider, to some extent, the other direction, where the social Web, with its interactions and connections between data through people, serves as a data source for semantic discovery.

The book has 13 chapters and a list of references. It starts with an introduction, followed by chapters 2 through 4, which motivate an interconnection between the social Web and the semantic Web and give a brief overview of these topics. Chapters 5 through 12 describe the basic concepts of social Web applications, and possibilities of enriching them by semantics: blogging, microblogging, message boards, wikis, knowledge services, multimedia sharing, social tagging, social sharing of software, social networks, online communities, and social enterprise applications and services. The last chapter discusses an integration of all aspects presented into the so-called social semantic information space.

The authors use certain technologies and applications to explain particular concepts. The following list of words taken from the book best demonstrates this fact: really simple syndication (RSS), Ajax, friend-of-a-friend (FOAF), mashups, folksonomies, wikis, OpenSocial, semantically interlinked online communities (SIOC), resource description framework (RDF), Web ontology language (OWL), SPARQL, microformats, Facebook, orkut, MySpace, last.fm, Twitter, del.icio.us, semantic MediaWiki, OntoWiki, DBpedia, Twine, Internet Archive, Freebase, Flickr, DBTune, Bibsonomy, Annotea, Sweetwiki, Atom Interface, Faviki, and hCard. The book contains many more such terms and their explanation. This is both the strength of the book (application and technology orientation gives a view of the practical social Web) and its weakness (technologies and applications evolve and change rapidly). So, the book serves as a perfect introduction to the concept of the social Web and its interconnection with the semantic Web, but requires some preliminary knowledge or experience in this field, particularly a background in the semantic Web. As the authors present many examples of real-world applications, the book can also serve as inspiration just by trying the various applications presented (most of which are available for public use).

For Web developers, researchers, and graduate students, this book would be an ideal source for becoming acquainted with the evolving field of social applications on the Web. It may well fit into a seminar in information systems or related graduate study programs.

Reviewer:  M. Bielikova Review #: CR138381 (1107-0705)
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