The Semantic Web Education and Outreach (SWEO) Interest Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was formed in 2006 to;
“develop strategies and materials to increase awareness among the Web community of the need and benefit for the Semantic Web, and educate the Web community regarding related solutions and technologies.” (SWEO Charter)
Concluded in 2008, the Interest Group was responsible for a range of activities including the development of a business case paper, the creation of a set of logos, and the collection of various business case studies. SWEO also seeded a number of community projects, with the goal of demonstrating the value of Semantic Web technologies in the wild. One of these projects was the Linking Open Data Community Project, which set out to;
“extend the Web with a data commons by publishing various open data sets as RDF on the Web and by setting RDF links between data items from different data sources.” (SWEO Linking Open Data Community Project, Project Description)
Participants in this informal activity embraced Berners-Lee’s rules and worked to take data they found on the web, convert it to RDF, and begin linking related concepts found in different resources. Perhaps the best known – and most frequently reused – dataset with which the team engaged was DBpedia;
“a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia, and to link other data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data. We hope this will make it easier for the amazing amount of information in Wikipedia to be used in new and interesting ways, and that it might inspire new mechanisms for navigating, linking and improving the encyclopaedia itself. (DBpedia)
DBpedia has become something of a hub for Linked Data projects, with many of them explicitly opting to reuse DBpedia concepts in their own work.