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  • Joe 11:00 on July 22, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: ecommerce, , microformat, , , Search, Search Engine Optimization, yahoo   

    Semantic Web Technology for SEO 

    SAN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 1:  Cars drive down 6...
    Image by Getty Images via Daylife

    Since the early days of Sematic Web I have been expecting that this technology would become very important for Search Engine Optimization.

    Until recently, however, the most important component for this to happen has been missing: the major search engines completely ignored RDF and other semantically enriched markup.

    This as changed now finally Yahoo and, more recently, Google announced to analyze and index rich mark up like microformats and RDFa.

    Just today I stumbled upon a nice article by the E-business and Web Science Research Group of the Universität der Bundeswehr München titled GoodRelations and Yahoo SearchMonkey with five very practical examples how to enhance your web pages for better relevance in the Yahoo search index.
    They make use of RDFa and the GoodRelations Web Ontology.

    This is all very exciting and I expect way more to come!

    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Joe 21:29 on January 17, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: identity, Just, news, openid, OpenID Foundation, Scott Kveton, single-signon, web users, yahoo   

    Yahoo as OpenID provider 

    OpenID logoJust announced: Yahoo! will support OpenID – and mind you, as a provider!

    According to the Press Release, this means that instantly another 368 million web users can use OpenID to log into more and more sites all over the web. This is very significant, as Scott Kveton, Chairman of the OpenID Foundation, blogs today in Take back your digital ID:

    Ask just about anybody that’s used the Internet and they’ll most likely agree; I have too many accounts to keep track of. Not only do I have to keep track of my username and password for every site, I usually have to go through the same find-my-friends dance for the places I go as well. There’s got to be a better way to define who I am on the web.

    Yahoo! is not stopping here, they have put up a quick introduction about OpenID and added an section about OpenID 2.0 to their developer network as well.

    I expect many, many more sites to switch to OpenID in the course of the year.


  • Joe 23:21 on June 3, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: , Chris Locke, Deborah Schultz, Dick Hardt, eBay, energy, Europe, Jeff Clavier, Kevin Rose, Microsoft, on-line identity, Rod Beckström, Saul Klein, SiliconValley, start networking, Web Conference, yahoo   

    The Next Web 2007 

    The Next Web Conference 2007Last Friday, The Next Web Conference 2007 was held in Amsterdam. A few quotes and one liners from my notes of this day.

    We (Europeans) are educated as Employees, not Entrepreneurs
    a remark from the audience in reaction to the keynote by Saul Klein of Index Ventures.

    Startups are creating lots of value (multi billion ventures: Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay etc) Currently these are all based in SiliconValley. What is the difference with Europe?
    The only relevant difference seems to be a cultural one. We must take more risk, do some experiments. It’s OK to fail, just pick yourself up and start over again with enriched experience. And start networking, at the Open Coffee Meetup for example…

    A bunch of me’s with Me in the middle
    Angel investor Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC talks about the trends of identity, personalization and general automation on the future web. He foresees a Multi personal instantiation modality, blurring online, offline and virtual worlds. So: “a bunch of me’s with Me in the middle”.
    And: automation pushed to the edge, with more robots and sensors (like Roomba). Less focus on utility, more experience and entertainment.

    Don’t shout, start Weaving
    Deborah Schultz on networking and marketing as networking activity. Relationships are hard and subtle and messy (trust, accountability vs spam and scamming). Think of it as relationship bricolageChris Locke (a nice slide with a McGuyver picture…). You never know which social contact will help you. We weave between networks and within networks.

    The Big Brother balance: don’t scare me with my own data
    Tapan Bhat of Yahoo! about the Front Doors project: from directories to On Demand. The Next web is connected and pervasive. Predictive and reflective of you, proactive, information is presented Just In Time (before you know you want it). Here you have to strike a balance: don’t scare me with my own data. It was not entirely clear how this will be achieved, I guess I missed the point of this keynote somehow.

    Forget your passwords
    Dick Hardt on Identity 2.0. Dick’s presentations are always a pleasure to watch, full of energy and very compact statements. Otherwise, this keynote added very little to the excellent introduction to Identity 2.0 introduction, OSCON 2005. His core vision is still much ahead of the industry. In a few words: management of identity, credentials and reputation through agencies and delegation. Yes, this is far beyond passwords and single sign on…

    And, SXIP announced a nifty plugin for Firefox, Sxipper, which promises to help you with all your on-line identity and passwords management. A couple of those visionary points translated into a real product.

    Tragedy is the mother of invention
    Rod Beckström – author of The Starfish and the Spider. Taking these animals as metaphors, the spider has a central nervous system, while the starfish is less hierarchical organized. Allegedly, if you cut off a starfish’s arm, it will regenerate a complete new animal, while the spider will be crippled after loosing a leg. The next web gives us analogous opportunities to organize in a non-hierarchical way. In this view, the world is flat indeed. A tragedy may result in new opportunities by acting locally, thus evading damage at the global scale.

    Update: there are lots and lots of blogs about this event, amongst others Sjors Timmer, Read/Writeweb, Mashable, Techcrunch (Updates on Digg, Kevin Rose by video link), BlueAce (nice imagery), MarketingFacts (Dutch), Argolon, Upstream (Starfish and Spider in Dutch), DutchCowboys (Dutch), Marketing-podcast (Dutch) and Frankwatching (in Dutch again)…


    • Jim Stolze 20:17 on June 4, 2007 Permalink

      Hey man,
      Great wrap up. I enjoyed the event just as you.

      Looking forward to the next!


      p.s. Zappa is the mother of invention 🙂

    • Joe 21:24 on June 4, 2007 Permalink

      @jim: well, Zappa’s band was called “the mothers of invention”, but I rather keep this secret, as otherwise people could guess that I’m that old already…

      Wait, Wikipedia tells me that the Mothers of Invention also operated independently:

      The Mothers of Invention was a rock and roll band active from 1964 to 1975. They mainly performed works by and were the original recording group of composer and guitarist Frank Zappa, although other members have an occasional writing credit.

      And yes, looking forward to edition #3 as well!

  • 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 initiatives, semweb technology, Stephen Downes, , , Web people, Web Will Fail, yahoo   

    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…

  • Joe 18:47 on February 22, 2007 Permalink
    Tags: abstract tools, connecting data processors, elementary tools, expert tools, graphic enhanced tool, graphic tools, search property, , window.location.search, yahoo   

    Yahoo Pipes, an opinion 

    Yahoo PipesAt first glance, Pipes looks really cool. To me, it gives an excellent graphical / symbolical view of what it is all about: connecting data processors, input to output. Indeed, much like Unix pipes.

    That said, it also reminds me an awful lot of an old “graphical database application” (forgot the name), that I was forced to use on the Mac, way back early 1990s. The idea was that people without any programming (and database) knowledge could created and drag/drop their own database application.

    There was a serious problem, however: the tool didn’t work at all. Programmers missed even the most elementary tools (no loops, no exit conditions), while people not into programming are not inclined to develop an abstract view of their data. Which was exactly the reason I got the assignment.

    The flaw is that this class of products are aimed at a non-existing audience. At one hand, we have complex tasks, which can be solved by expert users using expert tools. At the other hand we have lay users, wanting to get the results of complex operations – which is perfectly reasonable. However, requirements for these kind of graphic tools are extremely tough. As an example, providing a graphic wrapper around an expression which is basically a regexp will not help anyone.

    Bottom line: I suspect that those people who instantly grasp the meaning of the graphic enhanced tool would prefer their own (command line) tools, while the for the rest of us it is still way too abstract and thus complex. Provide real abstraction hiding, or you still need power users which will ignore your enhanced tool anyway.

    More recent examples of this flaw are in my opinion Apple Automator and the whole Applescript language. When it comes to exact, abstract object properties, I prefer to just say window.location.search, rather than “the search property of the location of the window” or something equally fuzzy. But I digress.

    So, back to Pipes: yes, there’s much eye candy to its lovely interface, but when it comes to pure production value, I prefer more abstract tools which give me more control. Hide all geeky abstraction involved, and it might evolve into something really great – way to go.
    For now, mixing and matching RSS feeds could be as simple as using command line xsltproc with a simple XSL tranformation.

    (maybe there is a niche for it in the cut-n-paste crowd – those who just google some code, paste it somewhere and have it magically work, sometimes. Pipes will at least give them a robust and well defined environment, where they will not easily shoot themselves in the foot).

  • Joe 15:38 on July 27, 2006 Permalink
    Tags: , , , yahoo   

    Keeping up with change 

    Greasemonkey is a great tool for changing a web page, just after it has been loaded. But this does not work for all those Ajaxified web 2.0 pages, where content is loaded on the fly.

    There is a solution, though: just listen for DOM events which modify the page’s content. Keep up with the DOM changes so to say!


    In the days before Flickr was acquired by Yahoo, I made a Greasemonkey user script: Flickr – Link Original Image that inserts direct links to the original uploaded photos on top of thumbnails. This worked fine, by parsing the DOM just after page load and looking for every occurrence of photo thumbnails.

    Now, after the recent relaunch of Flickr with dynamic Ajax loading, this script fails for those dynamically inserted thumbnails. Simply because they do not exist in the DOM when the page completes loading.


    DOM level 2 specifies a couple of Mutation events. Now I register an event handler for the relevant events and take action whenever an image gets inserted, removed or moved around.

    (More …)

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