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Re: Making human-friendly linked data pages more human-friendly (was: dbpedia not very visible, nor fun)

From: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 12:46:12 +0100
To: "Matthias Samwald" <samwald@gmx.at>
Message-Id: <A77AF878-830F-4951-82AC-6777952FAA84@cyganiak.de>
Cc: <public-lod@w3.org>
Hi Matthias,

Please allow me to present a contrarian argument.

First, there are some datasets that combine linked data output with a  
traditional website, e.g., by embedding some RDFa markup. Of course,  
in that case, all the rules of good web design and information  
presentation still apply, and the site has to first and foremost  
fulfill the visitor's information needs in order to be successful.  
That's self-evident and not what we are talking about here.

Most linked data is different. The main purpose is not to create a web  
site where visitors go to look up stuff. The main purpose is to  
publish data in a re-usable way, in order to allow repurposing of the  
data in new applications.

In that case, the "audience" for the human-readable versions of the  
RDF data is *not* a visitor that came to the site while googling for  
some bit of information. It's more likely to be a data analyst, mashup  
developer, or integration engineer. So what I suggest is to think of  
these pages not as something that end users see, but rather as  
something akin to Javadoc. Javadoc pages are auto-generated pages that  
describe a public interface of your system. Linked data pages are the  
same, but rather than a Java API, they describe your URI space. And  
unlike Javadoc, they are directly connected to the documented  
artifacts (URIs).

I think that the pages should mostly answer the following questions:  
What concept is identified? What *exactly* is the URI of this concept  
(careful with /html or #this at the end)? Who curates this identifier?  
Can I trust it to be stable? Most linked data pages actually do a  
fairly decent job at answering these.

Every data publisher has limited resources, and spending them on  
prettifying the HTML views is very low-impact. It's much more  
important to increase data quality, publish more data,  improve other  
documentation, and create compelling demos/apps on top of the data.  
The "namespace documentation" is usually good enough, and the  
geekiness of the pages actually helps to drive home the point that  
it's about *re-using this data elsewhere*, rather than looking at the  
data in the boring old web browser.

That being said, of course nicer-looking pages that present  
information in a more useful way are of course always better, but  
that's a somewhat secondary problem in the linked data context.


On 15 Sep 2009, at 10:08, Matthias Samwald wrote:

> A central idea of linked data is, in my understanding, that every  
> resource has not only a HTTP - resolvable RDF description of itself,  
> but also a human-friendly rendering that can be viewed in a web  
> browser. With the increasing popularity of RDFa, the URIs of these  
> resources are not only hidden away in triplestores, but become  
> increasingly exposed on web pages. People want to click on them,  
> and, hopefully, not all of these people come from the core community  
> of RDF enthusiasts.
> This means that the HTML rendering of linked data resources might  
> need to look a bit sexier than it does today. I dare to say that the  
> Pubby-esque rendering of DBpedia pages such as
> http://dbpedia.org/page/Primary_motor_cortex
> is helpful to get a quick overview of the RDF triples about this  
> resource, but non-RDF-enthusiasts would not find it very inviting.
> This could be improved by changes in the layout, and possibly a  
> manually curated ordering of properties. For example,
> http://d.opencalais.com/er/company/ralg-tr1r/f8a13a13-8dbc-3d7e-82b6-1d7968476cae.html
> definitely looks more inviting than the typical DBpedia page (albeit  
> still a bit sterile).
> In the case of DBpedia, it might be better to expose the excellent  
> human-readable Wikipedia page for each resource, plus a prominently  
> positioned 'show raw data' tab at the top. For other linked data  
> resources that are not derived from existing human-friendly web  
> pages, a few stylistic changes (ala OpenCalais) already might  
> improve the situation a lot.
> Note that this comment is not intended to be a criticism of DBpedia,  
> but of all Linked Data resources that expose HTML descriptions of  
> resources. DBpedia is just the most popular example.
> Cheers,
> Matthias Samwald
> DERI Galway, Ireland
> http://deri.ie/
> Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution & Cognition Research, Austria
> http://kli.ac.at/
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "Danny Ayers" <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:03 AM
> To: <public-lod@w3.org>
> Subject: dbpedia not very visible, nor fun
>> It seems I have a Wikipedia page in my name (ok, I only did fact- 
>> check
>> edits, ok!?). So tonight I went looking for the corresponding  
>> triples,
>> looking for my ultimate URI...
>> Google "dbpedia" => front page, with news
>> on the list on the left is "Online Access"
>> what do you get?
>> [[
>> The DBpedia data set can be accessed online via a SPARQL query
>> endpoint and as Linked Data.
>> Contents
>> 1. Querying DBpedia
>> 1.1. Public SPARQL Endpoint
>> 1.2. Public Faceted Web Service Interface
>> 1.3. Example queries displayed with the Berlin SNORQL query explorer
>> 1.4. Examples rendering DBpedia Data with Google Map
>> 1.5. Example displaying DBpedia Data with Exhibit
>> 1.6. Example displaying DBpedia Data with gFacet
>> 2. Linked Data
>> 2.1. Background
>> 2.2. The DBpedia Linked Data Interface
>> 2.3. Sample Resources
>> 2.4. Sample Views of 2 Sample DBpedia Resources
>> 3. Semantic Web Crawling Sitemap
>> ]]
>> Yeah. Unless you're a triplehead none of these will mean a thing.  
>> Even
>> then it's not obvious.
>> Could someone please stick something more rewarding near the top! I
>> don't know, maybe a Google-esque text entry form field for a regex on
>> the SPARQL. Anything but blurb.
>> Even being relatively familiar with the tech, I still haven't a clue
>> how to take my little query (do I have a URI here?) forward.
>> Presentation please.
>> Cheers,
>> Danny.
>> -- 
>> http://danny.ayers.name
Received on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 11:46:53 UTC

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