W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdfa@w3.org > February 2009

Re: RDFa and Web Directions North 2009

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 17:55:49 -0500
Message-ID: <4995FA75.2060708@openlinksw.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>, Michael Bolger <michael@michaelbolger.net>, public-rdfa@w3.org, RDFa mailing list <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Fri, 13 Feb 2009, Kingsley Idehen wrote:
>> When writing HTML (by hand or indirectly via a program) I want to 
>> isolate at describe what the content is about in terms of people, 
>> places, and other real-world things. I want to isolate "Napoleon" from a 
>> paragraph or heading, and state that the aforementioned entity is: is 
>> of type "Person" and he is associated with another entity "France".
> Why? (I do not ask this rhetorically.)
As a page writer:

I want to provide pointers to detailed descriptions of the things I 
mention in what I write.

I want to be able to express myself succinctly with pointers to other 
places on the Web where descriptions of the people, places, subject 
matter can be obtained.

Note, I don't want to point them to another chunk of blurb, I want to 
point my readers to a page that has the sole function of describing the 
aforementioned entities via their attributes and relationships.

I want to point to a resource that exposes a granular description of 
Napoleon e.g., <http://dbpedia.org/resource/Napoleon_I_of_France>   
instead of one that is quite opaque e.g, 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_I_of_France> .

As a page reader:
I want to have access to the entities behind the blurb. Today I can see 
an opaque but nice looking Web page, I can also see the markup behind 
the page, but I cannot easily discern the description of entities 
mentioned in a Web Page.

> How do you envisage these annotations being used?
To spread knowledge via the Web. Basically, accelerate propagation and 
exploitation of collective knowledge.
> Note that you can already "ask questions" on the Web. For example, I just 
> searched for "which country napolean", which is neither the right question 
> nor correctly spelt (though that wasn't intentional), and Google answered:
>    Did you mean: which country napoleon  
>    Search Results
>    French invasion of Russia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
>    [...]
>       Napoleon I of France - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
>       [...]
> Microsoft Live Search actually gave even better results here ("Napoleon I 
> of France" is the first answer).
Let's say Google did provide the perfect answer (which it absolutely 
doesn't), what bearing does that actually have on my example. The fact 
that you can do something one way is stylistic and not the basis for 
invalidating alternatives.

Back to your Google example, Google answered, but where is the 
disambiguation? How does it determine the context for the search? There 
are many dimensions to "Napoleon" and Google statistically guessed one 
based on link density of its subjectively assembled index and page rank 
algorithm. How do you as writer or ready efficiently navigate the many 
aspects/facets associated with the pattern: "Napoleon"?

The essence of the Web is openness, no presumptions, and allegiance to 
"open world assumptions".

Here is what I can do instead of depending solely on Google,. I call 
this "Search" + "Find" as the following sequence is a simple demo.

visit; http://lod.openlinksw.com/fct/facet.vsp .

The service above allows me use the attributes, relationships, and types 
of my search subject to find what I want. All of this happens because I 
am interacting with the data entities distilled from Web pages and other 
data sources. Remember, RDFa is about simplifying the distillation 
process above all else without the tedium of alternative approaches such 

Here are my steps to context driven search and find re. Napoleon:

1. Enter pattern: Napoleon and get what  I would get normally from 
Google (without page rank algorithm applied)
2. Click on "Type" in the Navigation section to filter my search result 
by Entity Types
3. Pick "dbpedia-owl:MilitaryConflict". "yago:BattlesOfTheNapoleonicWars 
",  "yago:BattlesInvolvingRussia "
4. From the drop down (in navigator section) click on Map

Steps 1-4 basically translate to:

e1 has any property whose value contains "Napoleon".
e1 is a dbpedia-owl:MilitaryConflict .
e1 is a yago:BattlesOfTheNapoleonicWars .
e1 is a yago:BattlesInvolvingRussia .

Where "e" is an entity (or S in SPO parlance).

I hope I've made my use-case for knowledge dissemination as part of an 
effort to objectively drive collective intelligence via the Web a little 

>> The use-case above is like taking a highlighter and making notes while 
>> reading about "Napoleon".
> The <mark> element in HTML5 is somewhat intended for use as the 
> highlighter, but it doesn't intrinsically give a way to relate "France" 
> with "Napoleon". (You can mark "France" as a "Place" and "Napolean" as a 
> "Person" by minting some class names, maybe somewhat unique ones like 
> "kidehen.place" and "kidehen.person", and telling people you have done so, 
> so that they can use the same annotations, if that helps.)
>> This is what we all do when studying, but when we were kids, we never 
>> actually shared that part of our endeavors since it was typically the 
>> route to competitive advantage i.e., being top student in the class.
> Speak for yourself; I made all my work available online as I was writing 
> it, from early in high school. :-)
>> RDFa is about the ability to share what never used to be shared. It 
>> provides a simple HTML friendly mechanism that enables Web Users or 
>> Developers to describe things using the Entity-Attribute-Value approach 
>> (or Subject, Predicate, Object) without the tedium associated with 
>> RDF/XML (one of the other methods of making statements for the 
>> underlying graph model that is RDF).
> I'm not sure I agree that RDFa is "simple" enough. Authors have enough 
> trouble dealing with <h1> or <em>; the idea that they would use RDFa as it 
> is defined today correctly seems optimistic.
> I'm also not clear on why RDFa is needed to share this information -- 
> isn't English a good solution to sharing? It seems to work well for 
> Wikipedia, no? What is RDFa actually going to add to the experience?



Kingsley Idehen	      Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
President & CEO 
OpenLink Software     Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Received on Friday, 13 February 2009 22:56:30 UTC

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