Combining Social Networks and Semantic Web Technologies for Personalizing Web Access

The original purpose of Web metadata was to protect endusers from possible harmful content and to simplify search and retrieval. However they can also be exploited in more enhanced applications, such as Web access personalization on the basis of end-users’ preferences. In order to achieve this, it is however necessary to address several issues. One of the most relevant is how to assess the trustworthiness of Web metadata. In this paper, we discuss how such issue can be addressed through the use of collaborative and Semantic Web technologies. The system we propose is based on a Web-based Social Network, where members are able not only to specify labels, but also to rate existing labels. Both labels and ratings are then used to assess the trustworthiness of resources’ descriptions and to enforce Web access personalization.

The availability of metadata describing Web resources’ has been considered as a key issue as soon as the Web became a public information space. Originally, the idea was to use metadata to protect end users from inappropriate and/or harmful content. Released by the W3C in 1996, PICS [1] was the first attempt to define a standard format for such metadata, referred to as content labels. Despite PICS has been quickly implemented by MS Internet Explorer and the Netscape browser, resource labeling has not gained success, mainly due to the following reasons. First, resource labeling requires content providers to spend time to describe their resources, and such an effort can be justified only if labels bring real marketing benefits to a content provider. Second, since Web resources’ content may frequently change, it is necessary to update content labels accordingly, to be sure that they actually describe the resources they refer to. However, in recent years the situation has changed, and Web metadata are currently seen by content and service providers as a means to assure the quality of online information. One of the outcomes of such new attitude has been the establishment of the POWDER (Protocol for Web Description Resources) W3C Working Group aiming at the definition of a new generation of content

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