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Information about When?

Published on December 16, 2008

Author: danbri




‘When...?’ Semantic Web technologies: where next... Dan Brickley <>

Basket Cases • Lessons (things that happened already) Lesson Trend • Trends (things happening anyway) • Requests (things to make the future sooner) Request

Overview • the Semantic Web project: history, hypertext & RDF • Two ‘claims & hypertext’ scenarios • Awkward Bit: learning our lessons • play to our strengths: aggregation • Trends in UI, search and services • Big picture: Web as the new public record Lesson Trend Request


Geoffrey Sneddon, Tim Berners-Lee, William ‘When?’ Loughborough. W3C Technical Plenary meeting, 2008, Cannes, France.

1968 Douglas Engelbart’s 1968 Demo


1994 “To a computer, the Web is a flat, boring world, devoid of meaning. This is a pity, as in fact documents on the Web describe real objects and imaginary concepts, and give particular relationships between them.” “For example, a document might describe a person. The title document to a house describes a house and also the ownership relation with a person.” Tim Berners-Lee quot;W3 future directionsquot; keynote 1st World Wide Web Conference Geneva, May 1994 “Adding semantics to the Web involves two things: allowing documents which have information in machine-readable forms, and allowing links to be created with relationship values. [this will] help us exploit the information to a greater extent than our own reading.”

2008 The World: ! The Web: !

Pages make claims this is the OpenID for Tim. Tim knows Henry. Tim’s workplaceHomepage is Trend Henry workplaceHomepage is Henry knows Tim. Henry’s phone number is, [...]

Strengths & Weaknesses • Rich mixing, within and between documents • any RDF data can use any RDF/OWL vocab • can mention and describe anything related • can omit information without breaking • Things can be identified in multiple ways

A lot to be proud of... • world-class, Web-scale data mixing environment • current best bet for treating the Web as data • optimised for massive decentralization • somewhat chaotic, semi-structured, scruffy • but grounded in formality and simplicity


“Does the Web know what you’ve been doing?” 1. Express the basic claim in RDFa. 2. Hyperlinking for discovery from W3C homepage. eg: <a href=”/People/Alumni” Request rel=”xyz:alumniPage”>alumni</a> Trust comes from linked information: claims in context.

Problem partition • what is W3C’s homepage? • we can check with Wikipedia/DBpedia • what data/documents do they provide? • via RDFa, RDF/XML, GRDDL, SPARQL • what do they tell us? /People/Alumni etc. • are they up to date? reliable? risky? wikis? • a case-by-case decision

foaf:tipjar Revisiting the “oh yeah?” problem with OpenID authentication.

Trend Trend

BBC Music: view source Q: if we know their homepage and myspace page... does that change what you’ll entrust to Request these OpenIDs if they log into your site?

Problem partition • what is the Rumblestrips homepage? • what is their myspace page? • is the OpenID I’ve just seen, one of theirs? • so that tipjar page linked from their FOAF, I can trust it? • ‘dunno mate’. Request

3. THE AWKWARD BIT Lesson Things that might’ve worked out better.

The art of compromise... RDF: data spork?

Why would Mozilla walk away? Lesson Lesson Lesson

Redland+SQLLite+Mozilla = ? Lesson Lesson Lesso

Lesson Why would a startup with an RDF- guru CTO not do RDF import? (clue: wanted - stable, packaged pure-Ruby RDF toolkit)

Learning Lessons Lesson Read/write is harder than read-only aggregation. Request Tools. Packaging. Testing. QA. Documentation. Request Redland (RDF in C) is important. Lesson So are the scripting languages. All of them. Request

Next time around... • Drupal 7 • • KDE Request • XMP • Yahoo! SearchMonkey, Google SGAPI, .... • (not to mention widgets, oauth etc.)

Playing to our strengths? Primarily, I think this means aggregation not management of data. This follows from the necessarily patchwork, open-world nature of our data model. And of the Web. RDF is beautiful for aggregation; challenging for data management. GRDDL, SQL-to-SPARQL, RDFa, ... discuss... Request

Strengths as weaknesses • Rich mixing, within and between documents • any RDF data can use any RDF/OWL vocab • can mention and describe anything related • can omit information without breaking • Things can be identified in multiple ways

The strange appeal of the Semantic Web... ...being greater than the sum of your parts?


What will ‘it’ be like?

An invisible Semantic Web... Somewhat better search results. Slightly smarter spam filters. A calendar full of useful information. Long-term archival tools. Auto-maintained cross-references. Relevant people grouped in addressbook. Trend A quiet revolution?

What, no 3D flythrough?

Freebase Parallax (from David Huynh, ex-SIMILE) • From the skyscrapers in Hong Kong • find the architects • take the other buildings they made • plot those on a map Trend <>

• or take US presidents • the ones who are republican • their sons and daughters • the schools they went to • the inevitable map... • or timeline, spreadsheet, blog post... Trend

Sets and links • The projects you work on • The people who work on them too • their latest public bookmarks Trend

Two flavours • skeptical: caring who claimed what Request • trusting: navigating flattened information Trend • dataset selection & the “Oh yeah?” button Request Related UI we’re more familiar with: Google earth layers, overlaying calendars, Photoshop layers...

More set-based navigation: gfacet “which cities are the bands that wrote this music from?” Trend

Data :) Trend

LOD! <> for details... Trend

Search & Services, Aug 15th 2008: “The FOAF (friend of a friend) standard makes blog search or social network search deeper and more accurate, in particular, it allows searching friend feeds and user profiles” “the largest blog services in the Russian internet including, and, represent user profiles in FOAF.” Trend & Sindice, Garlik Qdos, Falcons, ...

Is Google the next Google? “The Social Graph API makes information about the public connections between people on the web more easily available.” “...indexes the public Web for XHTML Friends Network (XFN), Friend of a Friend (FOAF) markup and other publicly declared connections. By supporting open Web standards for describing connections between people, web sites can add to the social infrastructure of the web.” Trend

SGAPI: Microformats & FOAF/RDF Claim graph analytics: “ is me!” Request “ is me!” Kevin Marks’ site is his foaf:workplaceHomepage is


Who, what, where and when, in... • Government • Healthcare • Journalism • Libraries • Science • Arts • Law • History • Trade • Museums • Research • Education • Agriculture • Archives... an endless list, infinitely interconnected...

Already happening • The Web is becoming our common public record • the Semantic Web’s mission is to defragment it Aside: privacy by obscurity is going away fast. Facebook & ‘social graph’ tools are educating a generation about “public”...

Libraries revisited: FRBR Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records Trend Request

FRBR: Trend Credit: William Denton <://> Request

Libraries revisited, ... ☑Catalogues. ☑Name authority files. ☑Thesauri. ☐ Classification schemes. Trend Keep an eye on: Request

Douglas Engelbart’s 1968 Demo


Re-use Re-cycle Reclaim Repair Anything but seamless.


When you’re a data mixing system, be a data mixing system. Lesson There is plenty more code to write, test and document. Lesson Learning from non-‘true believer’ users will speed up adoption. Lesson Stating the obvious?

Trend Web increasingly machine-readable - XML, JSON, MFs, SQL, & -yes- RDF/OWL. µf Pages make claims. RDF UI ideas are maturing. Massive datasets are being linked. Integration here plays to our strengths...

Request 1. Get the missing code written. Tested. Packaged. Please! 2. Think about the Web as a linked information system. 3. ...and the Semantic Web as a project not a thing.


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