W3C Tries to Unify Knowledge with New SKOS Standard

2 minute read
Chelsi Nakano avatar

Last week the World Wide Web Consortium (news, site) announced a new standard that connects simple knowledge organization systems (SKOS) like classifications, taxonomies, folksonomies, etc. with the linked data community.

The bridge allows SKOS to assist in managing large collections of data in the form of books, historical artifacts, news reports, blog entries, etc.


Designed to port knowledge organization systems to the Web, SKOS is a part of the Semantic Web technology stack. Much like OWL, SKOS can be used to define vocabularies; however, SKOS is a relatively simple system and offers no frills outside of sharing and linking knowledge organization systems.

"Active participation from the library and information science community in the development of SKOS over the past seven years has been key to ensuring that SKOS meets a variety of needs," said Thomas Baker, co-chair of the Semantic Web Deployment Working Group, which published SKOS. "One goal in creating SKOS was to provide new uses for well-established knowledge organization systems by providing a bridge to the linked data cloud."

A Bridge to the Clouds

The connection of the two worlds lends a hand to a vast array of communities including libraries, museums, newspapers, government portals, enterprises, social networking applications, and others. The lot of them can now leverage the power of linked data, oh my!

Learning Opportunities

One example comes from Sally H. McCallum, Chief, Network Development and MARC Standards Office, Library of Congress:

“The Library of Congress welcomes the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) reaching W3C recommendation status. We expect SKOS to play a role in helping the Library express and relate terms and concepts within its controlled vocabularies, authorities, classification schemes, and thesauri in a Web-ready, interoperable manner. Via our SKOS-based implementation of the _Library of Congress Subject Headings_ within the Authorities & Vocabularies service at http://id.loc.gov, we have demonstrated that implementing SKOS can pay dividends in both current and future metadata services within libraries. Reaching W3C recommendation status cements SKOS as a valuable and viable standard.”

Along with the connection come some notes from W3C for help with updating the SKOS primer and information about use cases and requirements. Take a peek over this way and that way if you’d like to check them out.