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Re: Making RDF / LinkedData trivially browseable - thoughts?

From: Hugh Glaser <hg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 2009 00:32:34 +0100
To: Kjetil Kjernsmo <kjetil@kjernsmo.net>, "public-lod@w3.org" <public-lod@w3.org>
CC: "Daniel O'Connor" <daniel.oconnor@gmail.com>
Message-ID: <EMEW3|bac9a91bc255a7629a9c161ade873a83l330Wk02hg|ecs.soton.ac.uk|A6C8%hg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
OK Kjetil, I clearly need to respond to your injunction to respond to Daniel.
Perhaps I avoided answering because it would feel a bit negative - not sure.
I am rather uncomfortable with even the idea that users might "browse the semantic web".
I know that is not what you are suggesting, Daniel, but you are also implying that the way a developer might get the sense they are gaining something with this Linked Data (LD) stuff is by clicking from site to site.
Unfortunately (for us?!), the real advantage of LD is meant to be more subtle.

I would split your "immediate payoff" question into two parts:

 1.  Consumer

As a Consumer, an example would be that my system had a URI for a person (from my domain), and because it also knew the dbpedia URI for that person, it was able to publish the institution name for the person if dbpedia had one. Another example would be to be able to identify where they were located, because of inferring from sites such as dbpedia where the institution they come from is located.

 1.  Producer

As a Producer, having published this LD, I would find that there were applications around that took cognisance of this LD, so that the next time I went and looked at that data, it would (in some way) include the data that I was publishing.

Both of these require quite sophisticated applications that might for example resolve URIs and perhaps use the information by some sort of fresnel rendering, without being tied to particular ontologies, and these are not widespread - hence your question, I think.
However, I think that the benefits of Consumerism can be quite well demonstrated, as long as it is easy to find the coreferent URIs to make the linkage.

So in summary:
Tell your "regular web developer guy" that all he needs are the URIs for the thing he is concerned with, so he can resolve them, and then he can do a "Mash-up/Mesh-up" with the data he gets back to offer lots more data to his customers, from a very wide range of sites.

Hope that helps.

On 03/04/2009 22:38, "Kjetil Kjernsmo" <kjetil@kjernsmo.net> wrote:

On Wednesday 25 March 2009, Daniel O'Connor wrote:
> Hey all,

Hey Daniel!

I'm a bit embarrassed that your questions have gone unanswered, as I
think they are very relevant and important.

> So, here's the scenario. I'm a regular web developer guy and I've
> heard about linked data. I know just enough about webservices and
> rest and xml and that sort of thing, and I'm sold on the big picture
> of the semantic web; and I've now just come across linked data.

Cool! Welcome! I think we really need people like you coming on board!

> Q: What's available to help me know "when I'm doing it right"; and
> what's available to make it feel like there's an immediate payoff?

So, these are very good, but quite difficult questions to answer right
now, but I think they are important questions to answer. I kicked off
the Community Projects within the Semantic Web Education and Outreach
interest group, which lead to the LOD back in the day, partly because I
felt that questions like these too often went unanswered. Now, we have
tons of data and relatively well established best practices, but I
still feel that the community needs to come together and answer these
questions, and to be a bit provocative, I suspect that the reason your
email has gone unanswered is that we aren't there yet. So, folks,
answer the questions! :-)

> So far, the simplest answer I have to that question is "whack a
> simple xsl ontop of it so the RDF gets rendered as
> not-very-pretty-but-hey-i-can-click-links html".
> Criteria for success: I can click from one half of my data set to the
> other, then end up at dbpedia, and then click off to somewhere else;
> and it feels like a unpretty normal web.
> So, to that end, I've whipped up this really quick and dirty
> stylesheet to basically do that. See
> http://pastebin.com/pastebin.php?dl=f289d4f5c
> Preview it by sticking this into your xml (and obviously host your
> own decent copy if you are using it in The Real World)
> <?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl"
> href="http://pastebin.com/pastebin.php?dl=f289d4f5c" ?>
> What do you guys think of this approach?

I'm actually not quite sure exactly what you're trying to achieve. There
are a bunch of generic data browsers, Tabulator, OpenLink Data Explorer
(FF extensions), Disco Hyperdata Browser, etc. So, it seems to me those
could be used for browsing data.

I've been writing huge amounts of XSLT for my apps (basically doing XSLT
on a constrained RDF/XML tree), and it gets really, really ugly pretty
quick. So, I'd discourage people from going down that path. In fact, it
seems like we need to abandon the entire XML toolchain for most of the
stuff we do (well, eventually, you could use some HTML, where it has
relevance, but other than that, throw it out).

So, there has been quite some talk about what to do, where Fresnel
http://www.w3.org/2005/04/fresnel-info/ may be the thing that has the
most traction. I think it looks like a massive overkill for most
regular web developers, and for my purpose too, so I started to think
about a RDFa templating language:
I haven't gotten any further on it, and it needs more thinking. And
since I'm more of an RDF geek than an X?(HT)?ML geek, it probably could
use some thinking from a regular web developer too :-)

Another thing I'd like to do is use SPARQL DESCRIBE queries to just
generate the data and the labels and stuff you'd need to present stuff
to a human user, and I put some of those ideas down here:
That also needs a bit more thinking, and the standards aren't even
there, so there is still work to do here. :-)


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Programmer / Astrophysicist / Ski-orienteer / Orienteer / Mountaineer
Homepage: http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/     OpenPGP KeyID: 6A6A0BBC
Received on Friday, 3 April 2009 23:34:06 UTC

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