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How to fund a website for getting started with RDF applications?

From: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2019 18:21:11 -0400
To: semantic-web <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <cef3b84e-46c0-6c59-d3d0-bce19f287207@dbooth.org>
How should a central website for getting started with RDF-related 
applications be funded and administered?

BACKGROUND:
Many major development technologies have a central website that gives 
newcomers everything they need to get started with that technology: 
tutorials, downloads, etc.   RDF does not.  Tools and learning resources 
are scattered, and the landscape is littered with abandonware. 
Newcomers have a difficult time figuring out what to use and how to 
start.  This problem was discussed both at the W3C Graph Data workshop 
in Berlin last week, and at the US Semantic Technology Symposium this 
week at Duke University.  See slides 68-74:
https://tinyurl.com/EasierDuke

RDF needs a central website for newcomers.   But how should it be funded 
and administered?  My thoughts so far:

  - Community engagement is essential, but a wiki-like model that is 
entirely community driven would not work.   Multiple attempts along 
those lines have already been made, and they have become abandonware 
after their main contributors moved on to other activities.

  - Curation is essential.  The site should not simply hold a long list 
of potential tools.  It needs to guide users more selectively through 
the jungle, by recommending specific sets of tools that are most likely 
to make the user successful.  Ideally the site should also point out 
alternative tools.

  - Tool selection is a judgement call, and different people will not 
all make the same choices for a given use case.  Nonetheless, such 
judgement calls are extremely helpful to newcomers.  Therefore, we need 
to figure out the right community-driven mechanisms for informing or 
making these judgement calls.  (As an example, judgement calls like this 
are made routinely for every release of Red Hat or Ubuntu when those 
organizations decide which packages to include.  What process do they 
use?)

  - Curation adds crucial value, but it also costs real money (or time). 
  Web hosting costs are trivial in comparison.  How should the site be 
funded?   As a non-profit, from contributions?   Vendors and big RDF 
users might be convinced to donate.  What should they get in return? 
Exposure?   Some advertising?

  - If ads are included, they must be relevant, unobtrusive and have no 
animation or sound.

  - Diversity of use cases.  Because of the wide variety of RDF use 
cases, it would be best to provide different tracks for different kinds 
of use cases, such as:

    - Content organization by metadata (for libraries, etc.)

    - Data integration (multiple data sources & data models)

    - OWL reasoning (e.g., with OBO Foundry ontologies)

  - How to balance free and open source with commercial interests?  The 
main focus should be on free and open source software: a newcomer should 
be quickly successful using only free and open source software.  But 
pointers to commercial tools and services should be considered also, 
both to help users find them, and to have vendor support of the site. 
However, the commercial aspect must be managed and balanced properly, to 
prevent the site from smelling like yet another marketing ploy.

I am interested to hear other thoughts or ideas.   Also, please let me 
know (privately or publicly) if you are keen on helping to figure this 
out and get this going.

Thanks!
David Booth
Received on Friday, 15 March 2019 22:21:33 UTC

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