IST2001-III.4.1. Semantic Web technologies
The prototype, based on the RDF Dictionary concept, helps a user to more quickly and more accurately find legal information, which is relevant to the question he sought to answer as he started his search on the Web. The prototype does so by offering a facility to access a legal website, retrieving and filtering its information using terms of one’s mother tongue and of the legal system one is most used to. The prototype is geared towards (but not limited to) use by professional lawyers, matching their quality and precision expectation. „Archetyping“ is a method developed to take maximum advantage of the XML data storage, exchange and search, in a crossborder legal environment. The prototype qualifies, inter alia, as an „intelligent agent“.
The prototype focuses on the content of websites and increases the value of legal websites by, on the one hand, widening their access to a larger number of users and, on the other hand, offer each individual user a way to search in a more customised way.
The RDF Dictionary is build with XML standards, including RDF. The RDF Dictionary does not code or structure (digital) content. It builds on top of existing structures of digital content (valid XML documents). Rather than declaring semantics for one particular document, it declares semantics of an XML Schema, which is used as a datastructure for many instance documents. This ensures a multiplier effect for the labour intensive declaring of semantics.
The RDF Dictionary qualifies as a „semantics based tool for knowledge discovery, intelligent filtering and profiling“ and as an „information agent“. It does not offer a new query language, but with its Archetyping clearly offers a new query method.
The description of „Information visualisation“ seems to be a description avant la lettre of the RDF Dictionary: “intelligent and visual interfaces which take advantage of semantic information structures to provide users with radical new ways to navigate and search naturally through unknown and complex information spaces“.
The RDF Dictionary project has „sustainability“ and „scalability“ not just as its top priorities, they are the very essence of the project. Every step in the project, which is not directed at creating the prototype itself, is directed at the prototype serving as a basis for further development in many years to come.
The objectives of Key Action III in general
The RDF Dictionary will be an important factor in allowing for diversity in the standardisation process in the legal field. Standardisation is used in the meaning of datastructures being created for legal information, first and foremost contained in legal documents. Reference is made to LEXML (http://www.lexml.de) and LegalXML (http://www.legalXML.org). Uniformity is not desirable (and may even not be possible). A way to compare structures is needed, not to try to make uniform structures. One of the main goals of the RDF Dictionary is to facilitate cultural diversity during the standardisation process, law and language both being an important expression of culture. Without an RDF Dictionary and its „higher level of interactivity” approach, it will not be feasible to take advantage of the possibilities of XML to create one global legal information space, while at the same time allowing for diversity. Arguably, a higher level of interactivity, such as provided by the RDF Dictionary, is vital and indispensable to create a universal legal infrastructure.