My friend, Geoff Bock, recently posted a very useful article, Schema.org site aims to standardize tags for Web content managers. As Geoff notes, federal agencies have charged with administering "discrete pieces of open data and content which can be tagged, shared, secured, mashed up and presented in the way that is most useful for the consumer of that information." The concept is to eliminate silos between agency content and to make it more accessible to other agencies and citizens. This is a good thing.
In addition, government agencies are adding semantics and structure to the content they publish that will make the information more useful to everyone. Geoff describes a new group called Schema.org that is working toward HTML standards for tags to support this effort. As their site syas, Schema.org “provides a collection of schemas (i.e., html tags) that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers.” This initiative can take advantage of the fact that “open standards for marking up information and for parsing all types of content have matured to deliver smart results.” This takes a step further toward the original vision of the Internet as "a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines."
The Schema.org website, started in 2011, includes a core set of almost 300 different item types, including familiar entities such as "event," "organization," "person" and "place," in an extensible hierarchy of related terms. These item types are continuing to grow. Geoff writes that Schema.org's open markup vocabulary is rapidly gaining popularity as the “underlying technical standard for enriching content with the descriptive tags that embed semantics within information streams.”
All of this is good news for people who want to be able to easily access content on the Web. Standards are one of the keys to taking advantage of what the Web and its younger cousin, social business, offer (see for example, Open Social Provides Standards to Help Put Social Software to Work). Geoff also provides advice for Web Content Managers outside the government on how to best take advantage of this effort and I recommend taking a look at his work.