RDF, RDFS, and OWL are the basic representation languages of the SemanticWeb, with RDF serving as the foundation. RDF addresses one fundamental issue in the Semantic Web: managing distributed data. All other SemanticWeb standards build on this foundation of distributed data. RDF relies heavily on the infrastructure of the Web, using many of its familiar and proven features, while extending them to provide a foundation for a distributed network of data.
The Web that we are accustomed to is made up of documents that are linked to one another. Any connection between a document and the thing(s) in the world it describes is made only by the person who reads the document. There could be a link from a document about Shakespeare to a document about Stratford-upon-Avon, but there is no notion of an entity that is Shakespeare or linking it to the thing that is Stratford.
In the Semantic Web we refer to the things in the world as resources; a resource can be anything that someone might want to talk about. Shakespeare, Stratford, “the value of X,” and “all the cows in Texas” are all examples of things someone might talk about and that can be resources in the Semantic Web. This is admittedly a pretty odd use of the word resource, but alternatives like entity or thing, which might be more accurate, have their own issues. In any case, resource is the word used in the SemanticWeb standards. In fact, the name of the base technology in the SemanticWeb (RDF) uses this word in an essential way. RDF stands for Resource Description Framework.
In a web of information, anyone can contribute to our knowledge about a resource. It was this aspect of the currentWeb that allowed it to grow at such an unprecedented rate. To implement the Semantic Web, we need a model of data that allows information to be distributed over the Web.