Daniel John Ayers

Photo of Danny in a marble quarry
Ayers, Daniel
Mozzanella, 7
Castiglione di Garfagnana,
55033 Lucca
geo FOAF rss
AIM/Yahoo!: danny_ayers
IRC nick: danja (#swig, #foaf etc)

In Brief : I'm a Semantic Web developer and technical author specializing in cutting-edge technologies. I have a weblog and am fond of animals.

Availability : I'm usually available for development work on anything interesting (pretty much any programming language), as long as I can do it from home. I'm also prepared to write about virtually anything, for reasonable recompense. Likewise I'll be happy to speak anywhere on just about anything, assuming expenses are covered. The best way to contact me is by email: danny.ayers@gmail.com

Current Activities

Ongoing activities include experimenting with an agile approach to Semantic Web application development. Near the top of my to-do list is Pragmatron, the umbrella name for a set of Personal Knowledge Management tools, which I hope before long will be able to look after my to-do lists. I recently got involved in the Gargonza Experiment, which aims to produce cool demos of Semantic Web technologies, particularly using the SPARQL Query Language for RDF. A part of the Pragmatron project was suitable for this (RSS/Atom aggregation bits), so I've recently been concentrating on that with the working title SparqlSphere. IdeaGraph is a long-term project to develop a desktop Personal Knowledge Management application. This is currently on pause while I'm experimenting with server-side components. Associated with these projects I have various RDF/OWL vocabularies (at various stages of incompleteness) for various specific purposes, such as online Reviews and Project Management. I've also done some work on an OWL Ontology for Atom, and some stuff for putting pets (like Basil) on the Semantic Web.

Once these parts are at a reasonably well-developed stage, I want to spend time exploring techniques for combining Semantic Web and machine learning technologies to autodiscover connections between ideas. This isn't much more than a few loose ideas at present (with working titles like "SemText" and "Serendipity Server"), partly because a lot of experimentation will be needed to see what works. Tools suitable for fusing logic-based inference and statistical techniques in the (Semantic) Web environment aren't yet available, but are on the to-do list.

At any given time I've usually got half-a-dozen different little hacks in progress. As time permits I've been putting together a graph-oriented RDF API, "Sambuca" the target language is Smalltalk (for Squeak), though I somehow find myself hacking in Python at the moment. Ah well, port later. At some point I'm hoping to do some experimentation around WordNet for the WordNet Task Force, although I'm still trying to get up to speed on the background. I'm always in the process of reorganising my online material. The main thing outstanding is to collate links to hacks and written material - a while ago I made a start with Delivered and In Progress, but recently most hacky things have been posted on my weblog but not catalogued elsewhere. To-do.

When funds are low I generally do contract development/programming and consultancy work.

Recently finished Beginning RSS and Atom Programming for Wrox/Wiley, co-authored with Andrew Watt (see also: Published Work).

I've usually got a handful of short pieces on the go, with the hope I can get paid for one or two of them. Output includes Extending RSS and Creating an SVG Wiki (both at xml.com) and The Legend of View Source (on this site). I have worked on several other books. I was recently interviewed on RSS in the Enterprise.

I'm involved in various online collaborative projects notably:

The Gargonza Experiment - SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language testbed/showcases
Semantic Web Interest Group - community support and development of SW technologies
Blue Oxen Associates - think tank on collaboration and augmenting knowledge work
Atom Working Group - specification of an open syndication format and protocol
Yahoo! Media RSS - development of extensions to RSS to support media
Podcasting Specification WG - specification of assorted media syndication formats and protocols

I had the pleasure of witnessing the transformation of the RDF Interest Group into the Semantic Web Interest Group at the W3C plenary in Cannes, France 2004, where I also gave a lightning talk. I gave an invited talk at SWAP2004 (Italian Workshop on Semantic Web Applications and Perspectives, Ancona University) and am on the programme commitee for SWAP2005. I was also on the programme commitee for SFSW2005 (Workshop on Scripting for the Semantic Web, European Semantic Web Conference 2005).

I've had a personal blog for several years. I tend to post a lot on Semantic Web-related matters, and the blog is one of those aggregated on Planet RDF, despite (or maybe because of) the numerous cat photos. I maintain the Finally Atom weblog, keeping track of developments in the Atom syndication format/protocol project. I'm the primary contributor to a professional blog focussing on Grid computing: GridReporter.com. I'm a very occasional contributor to Lambda the Ultimate the programming languages weblog (usually when a new RDF serialization appears).

Personal Stuff

I live in northern Italy with my wife Caroline. We're originally from the Peak District in northern England, (she from Bakewell, me from Tidza ). We lived in Sri Lanka for a while before settling here. We've got a dog and six cats (a lot I know, but they adopted us).

You'll have gathered I'm a developer, tech author and consultant, on forward-looking Web technologies. I enjoy this stuff.

I also enjoy making electronic music, but haven't done any for a long time (I was a founder member of Nocturnal Emissions, way back). I very much like carving wood, and since being near the Carrera marble quarries (as in the photo above) I've started trying stone. I'll have another crack at oil painting when time permits, it seems you need practice to get beyond blobby trees. I'm not remotely athletic but did try skiing once, a lot of fun despite the bruises. We usually just plod up hills on foot, being dragged by Basil dog.

My first computer was one of these:

little old computer

I've been interested in knowledge representation and machine learning for many years and have worked for several years on network technologies. I'm delighted to see these fields are now converging before my very eyes, in the form of the Web, soon to be formerly known as the Semantic Web. I got interested in these particular technologies while trying to build a smarter search engine, quite a while ago now.

I'm active on the Web. The earliest material of mine still live I believe is this from around 1996. Most things pass through the blog these days (my earliest bloglike post is probably this postcard from around 1999/2000).

I haven't really got any paper qualifications, though I had 2 years studying electronics for the music industry (HND level) and a one-year degree course at Sheffield Hallam University on Engineering Information Technology, really enjoying the digital signals material but flunking the finals on analogue circuit theory. I've also done some of a part-time MSc in Computing for Commerce and Industry with the Open University, although that's become totally redundant with the work I've been doing since.

My last full-time day job was about 5 years ago at the University of Derby's Buxton Campus (High Peak College), where for around 4 years my primary responsibility was looking after a network (Netware, NT and my pet Linux box) serving several hundred staff and several thousand students. The IT department was a very small team, so I was also on call for end-user support (I still cringe when the phone rings). At one point I had the pleasure of redesigning the whole server configuration essentially single-handedly, I also put together the College's first Intranet and was behind their initial presence on the Web. Around the same period I was an invited speaker at the MumJava Conference in Mumbai (Bombay), India. I also did a little teaching at the College, basic Web stuff and Java.

Published Work

I wrote significant chunks of these books :

I've tech reviewed a lot more.

Invited article for the AIS SIGSEMIS Bulletin (PDF) Association for Information Systems, Special Interest Group on Semantic Web and Information Systems, Vol. 1, Issue 2, July 2004 : "The Missing Webs" (local copy, HTML), outlining some of the pieces missing from the current WWW and why I think the W3C's Sematic Web initiative is probably the best way forward to a better Web.

I've done a couple of short pieces for O'Reilly's xml.com : Extending RSS and Creating an SVG Wiki

In the days before the Web I had several articles published in the magazine "Electronics World & Wireless World" - on or roundabout non-linear circuitry. These included a write-up on how easy it was for circuits to get chaotic, and a bat detector. Two of these articles appeared as the cover feature of the magazine.

For totally up-to-date info, check the weblog.

@@TODO hCard, vCard? GRDDLable FOAF/XFN


1999-2005 Danny Ayers