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  • Joe 23:08 on February 23, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: Linked Data, , semantic web,   

    Triplify your blog 

    blog resourcesDo you want to make your blog Semantic Web ready, but don’t know where to start?

    Just download and install the Triplify script, a lightweight tool to translate SQL query results into RDF triples and return the result in N3 (Notation3) or as JSON.

    The script itself is only capable of generating RDF, the actual matching between data and RDF output is specified in a configuration file. These configurations are available for many popular web applications, here is a Triplify configuration for WordPress 2.7.x.

    Installing is almost as simple as dropping the triplify directory in your WordPress root directory and uploading the correct configuration file. No need to configure any specific values for your WordPress set-up, these are read from the top level wp-config.php file.

    Now go to your blog and request the URL http://yourblog/triplify/ – this will return your blog’s content as RDF/N3 and at the same time register the feed at the Triplify Registration (well, if you leave the register switch at “true” in the config file).

    Now you dan play with your RDF data in various sources on the web, or locally.

    A good start for exploration is the SIMILE Welkin browser, also available as Java web start: run Welkin thru Java WebStart.

    Continue for an example…

    (More …)

  • Joe 11:26 on April 4, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: artificial intelligence, basic semweb technologies, central blog site, data smarter vs make software smarter, , internet ventures, Leah Culver, netxweb, Nova Spivack, online, pure mathematical algorithms, radar networks, , real estate brokers, semantic web, , , social networks, software builds, twine, twones, Twones.com, Web approach   

    The NextWeb 2008 (day one) 

    Although last year’s NextWeb conference had good coverage in the blogosphere, this year everything has been professionalized around the yearly event. One of these improvements is the nextweb.org, which has become a central blog site where professional bloggers keep up with the developments around new internet ventures.

    You can read about all noteworthy and sometimes even anecdotal events there, so I limit myself ot some personal observations at this place.

    Noteworthy was the first keynote by Adeo Ressi, “Get Funding for Your Dream“. According to him, now is the best time ever to start a new venture. But at the same time, there are many dangers luring in VC funding, which you should be aware of.

    One of the most central statements: you ore strictly on your own for reviewing the contract terms when it come to closing a deal. Your legal advisor will be honest with you up to the point when you sing a contract with them, as they have just one incentive left afterwards: close the deal and get the percentage of the value you negotiated earlier. Every delay is just wate of time – so forget about honest advice on VC terms.

    This reminds me of the peculiar situation we have with real estate brokers and financial advisers over here: these people all work for a percentage of the deal, so nobody is at your side when it comes to choosing the real best option, let alone a careful review of the terms.

    The rest of the talk was about what to expect when going through the movements, from choosing investors, preparing your references (they will be interviewed, even the unlikely ones, and should always be unconditional positive about you) and, indeed, bad terms vs acceptable ones.

    Interesting – and enlightening – it looks like we are doing pretty well regarding our own startup Twones.com.

    The keynote by Leah Culver of Pownce was charming and gave most of all insight in the networking aspects of starting a online business. Her suggestion to talk more about the how and why around OAuth was not accepted by the audience. Regretful, I would have liked a quick introduction in this emerging standard as an alternative to all those proprietary solutions for all those social networks.

    Nova Spivack of Twine held the keynote I was looking forward to the most. This time, surprisingly, the audience chose for an introduction into the semantic web, rather than a presentation about Twine.

    And this presentation was well done. No new or surprising elements for those who follow Nova Spivack’s blog (his “CEO blog” at Radar Networks), but I am sure that many people in the audience will have “got it“. And from personal experience I know how difficult it is to explain the relevance of the highly abstract and often complex elements of the semantic web.

    What I liked was the perspective in which Nova places the semweb:

    Tagging approach
    pro: easy to do
    con: easy to do (inconsistence, no “meaning“)

    Statistical approach (Google)
    Pro: pure mathematical algorithms
    Con: no understanding of the content

    Linguistic approach
    pro: true language understanding
    con: computational intensive, scales badly, one domain at a time

    Semantic Web approach (radar networks, dbpedia, metaweb, talis)
    pro: more precise queries (metadadata)
    con: lack of tools, who creates the metadata?

    Artificial Intelligence approach (cycorp)
    pro: this is the holy grail!
    con: never finished and always outdated (the holy grail)
    Now the Semantic Web approach is in the middle:
    Software needs some improvement and you need metadata
    But: advantages add up to a network effect; if I enhance my data, I get the benefit inr eturn that my data now can be linked automatically in all kind of related contexts, especially those I never could imagine myself.

    And this is taking off at an increasing speed, see the updated graph on open, linked data on the web.

    The Growing Linked Data Universe
    Characteristics of the semantic web approach:

    • Make data smarter vs make software smarter
    • Metadata vs AI & linguistics
    • Open data enables network effects


    • Bottom up (you need to learn RDF and such) – this is not going to happen (note: basic semweb technologies exist since around 2000).
    • Top down: software builds all the RDF and OWL and stuff for you. Not surprisingly, this where Twine aims at.

    Some notes on the practical side. Nova dislikes the term Semantic Web as being to vague, “Web of Data” would be more appropriate. And then, already an old theme, he adapts the popuplar but heavily overloaded term “web 2.0” to mean “the second decade of the web” en so, web 3.0 as the third decade, roughly 2010 – 2020. So we got a timeline. And right now the early adopters are emerging, the first killer apps will be launched roughly between now and the next two years.

    Finally, a critical not on business models: how do protect my business if all data has to be open and free?

    The bottom line is taht every entrepreneur needs to decide for themselves, but in the long run people will move away from closed environments where they only put effort in, without being able to get the value back of their own data, let alone benefit of the network effect.

    Again, this is an area were Twones will shine: our business model scale along with the network effect, the more open and the more shared each user’s data is, the more value everyone will get out of it.

    Oh, and I got my private Twine invite (looks good, many thanks Nova!).

    Got curious about Twones?

    We will lanuch an invitation only beta at the end of the month, you can register for the beta waiting list at http://www.twones.com

  • Joe 15:35 on October 18, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: , , , real world applications, screen scraping, semantic web, semantic web objects, simplest imaginable solution, web browsers   

    From Microformats to RDF 

    In response to Microformats vs. RDF: How Microformats Relate to the Semantic Web.

    Indeed, microformats are not an alternative for RDF, not even a “poor man’s version”. But that was not a design goal at any time. What’s more: microformats are no first class semantic web objects in any way either. Rather, they are the simplest imaginable solution for semantically correct markup, limited to the most common data formats out there.

    To rephrase the microformats charter, they want to be the common man’s solution, aimed at the well intending webmaster crowd. As such, microformats can be hugely successful (analogue to the “html as tag soup” success story). Fine.

    Next, as we end up having millions of valid items of hCard, hReview and what not on the web, there is GRDDL to instantly promote all this content in full fledged RDF.

    The good news is that we have all components currently available – many microformats are auto-generated from well designed CMS templates – and GRDDL is a Proposed Recommendation since 6 July 2007.

    What we’re waiting for, is a business need to discover, transform and aggregate all of this data. I would be surprised if nobody is working on this, right now. Google, or a Google killer?

    Bottom line: the semantic web has been lacking real world content for too long (not withstanding DBPedia and Freebase and such) and real world applications for the common man. Microformats can and will have a place in advocacy for this large target audience, people who grasp html and basic data constructs, but who are not interested in graph theory.

    This audience will only jump on the bandwagon if they can instantly understand the intent from view source inspection. Compare the success of RSS 2.0 over the semantically superior (but more complex, RDF based) RSS 1.0 version.

    In the end it will just not matter, most content will be “good enough” to be useful for the semweb (through GRDDL transformations and screen scraping), just like today’s html is good enough to be rendered, in some way, in our web browsers. By that time we will have a load of other problems, like semantic spam, the need for provenance tracking and trust levels for semantic information. But that is another story…

    Update:  Semantic Report writes about Using Microformats to Get Started with the Semantic Web. So, there then!


  • Joe 12:40 on May 9, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: Albert Einstein, , , , real semantic web, semantic web, semantic web people   

    On Simplicity (POSH) 

    Are you Posh? logoThis year will be the year of the semantic web for the common man, in the first place because of the success of microformats. And because of the original semantic web people, who in general have a very positive attitude towards the grassroots adoption, helping a hand with tools and specifications like GRDDL.

    This whole movement has led to another change as well. That is, as I see it, people getting to finally understand what the meaning of the original HTML specification was all about: it is the semantics, not the presentation in the first place.

    (More …)

  • Joe 16:30 on March 26, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: Esther Dyson, Now Jon Udell, semantic web,   

    Freebase as productive playgound? 

    Some time ago I revisited the subject of tagging vs the Semantic Web, focused on personal data use: Making Sense of Tagging.

    My conclusion was that, in order to make semantic tagging effective, the interface must be as simple as possible, while still providing linkage with the real world outside. I other words: as simple as traditional tagging (del.icio.us, flickr) but anchored to some broader defined ontology. Which can be anything you agree upon.

    In the mean time, Freebase has entered privite beta testing, and the reviews are raving (Esther Dyson, Tim O’Reilly)…

    Now Jon Udell added his view in Semantic web as social enjoyment.

    One sentence strikes me as the essence of what is needed for the semweb:

    The authors of the semantic web are going to be people, not machines. And people will only want to play the game if it’s easy, natural, and fun.

    The essence is the bottom-up approach. End users “doing the work”, both for fun and for their own benefit. Food for explorative and enquiring minds (which we all have), nothing like being forced to use a top-down, pre-defined hierarchy.

    Man, I would really like to play around with Freebase (trade an invite for a Joost token, once these become available again?).

  • Joe 22:18 on March 24, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: , car sales, Conrad Black, correct tools, , Dennis Furr, , , Japan;, limit services, MySpace, proper semantic web technolgy, , Rupert Murdoch, semantic web, semantic web initiatives, semweb technology, Stephen Downes, , , Web people, Web Will Fail,   

    Why the Semantic Web will NOT Fail 

    W3C Semantic Web stack taken from W3C’s web siteOn Linkedin Answers, Krzysztof Pająk asks the question “Why the Semantic Web will Fail?
    Update: the person at LinkedIn apparently ripped his question literally off a blog post by Stephen Downes: Why the Semantic Web Will Fail– which I just found out about.

    I posted the following clarification to LinkedIn answers:

    I hereby leave my answer as general insight for this thread, but I have no respect for the way you’re apparently doing business. This smells a lot like plagiarism.

    The original blog post is much more about trust and control, while the Linkedin thread seems to focus more about business models and cost. Just be sure to read Spehens blog.

    Quoted, from Stephen Downes:

    I was thinking about the edgy things of Web 2.0, and where they’re working, and more importantly, where they’re beginning to show some cracks. 

A few of key things today: 

- Yahoo is forcing people to give up their Flickr identities and to join the mother ship, and 

- MySpace is blocking all the widgets that aren’t supported by some sort of business deal with MySpace 

- the rumour that Google is turning off the search API 

And that’s when I realized: 

The Semantic Web will never work because it depends on businesses working together, on them cooperating. 

We are talking about the most conservative bunch of people in the world, people who believe in greed and cut-throat business ethics. People who would steal one another’s property if it weren’t nailed down. People like, well, Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. 

And they’re all going to play nice and create one seamless Semantic Web that will work between companies – competing entities choreographing their responses so they can work together to grant you a seamless experience?

    Then, Dennis Furr answered:

    Another way to look at this is from the perspective of the SME. Let the big players cause restrictions and limit services and their clients will abandon them. This will create new opportunities for new and existing SMEs to demonstrate their worth. 

-Yahoo doesn’t force anyone to do anything. We make choices. 

-If MySpace doesn’t provide the correct tools to satisfy their customers than the customers will vote with their feet. 

-If Google (foolishly) turned off the search API then someone else would provide a replacement service. 

Consumers aren’t loyal to brands, they are loyal to what these brands deliver. Look at the US automobile industry in the 1970’s. US auto manufacturers were building large cars that didn’t get very good fuel economy. Japanese car sales flourished. After much pain and agony US auto manufacturers developed relationships with their Japanese competitors and started manufacturing cars that were more attactive in terms of fuel economy. They even built cars with engines manufactured in Japan that were also used in Japanese cars. 

My point is that if large players in an industry choose not to “play nice“ then this will likely create a place in the market for the SME. By developing seamless working relationships, collectively, the SME may develop enough momentum to displace larger traditional providers.

    But there’s more.

    Why the Semantic Web will NOT fail

    First, Dennis gives a most execellent answer to the question about greed and conservatism.

    Then, about the technology, things may evolve slghtly different than foreseen back in 2000 when the term “the semantic web“ emerged.

    Back then, the perspective came mostly from the AI folks and Librarians, where the interpretation and categorization of data was thought of in a very top-down way. Basically, we needed massive centralized ontologies, which cost tons of money to define and maintain.

    The cost of such a system could easily be prohibitive according to the scenario of Kryzsztof Pająk Stephen Downes.

    But then came round the developments which were tagged “web 2.0“. The key factor in my opinion, is the third point of Tim O’Reilly’s What is Web 2.0 article: data is the next “Intel Inside”. In my words, this means that users have to gain by sharing their data (the sum adds more value to the individual items) and smart companies can benefit from exploiting this data in a sensible/smart way.

    We have seen this in the form of tagging on sites as Flickr and del.icio.us. Individual users get the benefit of putting their data in context of the rest, the service gets the benefits of being able to do all kinds of data mining and exploitation (e.g. advertising). The key point here is: users add their own meta data, for their own benefit.

    Right now these so called folksonomies are becoming more and more mainstream. The center of this bottom up movement is the microformats initiative.
    This doesn’t go unnoticed by the Semantic Web people and the first initiative to build the bridge between folksonomies, like microformats, and proper semantic web technolgy (rdf and ontologies) is being finalized right now: the W3C GRDDL recommendation. So we could finally get the benefits of both massive amounts of metadata, all entered by normal users, and carefully mapped ontologies, created by professionals for some specific benefit.

    I would not be surprised if 2007 will be the year of the first successful, mainstream semantic web initiatives. Interesting fact: the new Video on demand service Joost.com is heavily supported by semweb technology at the back end.

    Here is the linkedin thread in case you’re interested…

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