Let us begin this review by defining the subject matter. The term Semantic Web as used in this article is a field of research rather than a concrete artifact—in a similar way, say, Artificial Intelligence denotes a field of research rather than a concrete artifact. A concrete artifact, which may deserve to be called "The Semantic Web" may or may not come into existence someday, and indeed some members of the research field may argue that part of it has already been built. Sometimes the term Semantic Web technologies is used to describe the set of methods and tools arising out of the field in an attempt to avoid terminological confusion. We will come back to all this in the article in some way; however, the focus here is to review the research field.
This review will be rather subjective, as the field is very diverse not only in methods and goals being researched and applied, but also because the field is home to a large number of different but interconnected subcommunities, each of which would probably produce a rather different narrative of the history and the current state of the art of the field. I therefore do not strive to achieve the impossible task of presenting something close to a consensus—such a thing still seems elusive. However, I do point out here, and sometimes within the narrative, that there are a good number of alternative perspectives.
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