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Re: tutorial on Music and the Web of Data

From: Christopher St John <ckstjohn@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 12:27:06 -0500
Message-ID: <8ba906450907011027y71556e37h4ea5ef8abb022ded@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-lod@w3.org
> We've launched a website which will contain all tutorial materials
> [2].  If you have any suggestions for materials to include you can
> comment on that site or on this thread.  Looking forward to hearing
> your ideas!

So, for what it's worth, I gave a talk at our local IxDA chapter last
night to a (small) bunch of information architect types on some of
the fundamental challenges of designing applications that can take
deep advantage of the semantic web in general, and linked data in

What's relevant is that I decided to never mention triples, URIs, the
Four Principles of Linked Data, inferencing, types or anything else
that usually goes into a Semantic Web introduction. Instead (at least
in the intro) I concentrated on what capabilities the semantic web
enables for web apps right now, and the deltas from database
technology the audience was already familiar with. What it can
do for you, rather than anything about how it works.

Then, in the demos, I did things like open up the RDF/XML inside the
BBC music pages and show how you could manually follow some
of the links out to MusicBrainz and other BBC pages. I never
explicitly said things like "identifiers in RDF are URIs and in Linked
Data are dereferencable", it was obvious from context.

At the end, I circled back around and drilled down into some of the
details based on questions from the group.

The idea was to allow the attendees to build up an incomplete (and
somewhat inaccurate) mental model that could be used to
make accurate predictions about capabilities relevant to interaction
designers, and which would help them bootstrap into a full and correct

It worked _much_ better than trying to dump the Primer(s)[2] onto
them (while at the same time giving them the background and
motivation needed to understand the Primer(s))

I don't know what background your audience will have, but you might
consider going very light on the "Intro to the web of data" section,
and skipping triples, N3, the details of SPARQL ("it's like SQL"),
etc. I'm not saying don't demo SPARQL, I'm saying don't
introduce any details of SPARQL till _after_ the demos, and only
in answer to questions. Same goes for N3, RDF/XML, or any of
the rest of it. No details, just a quick "it's kinda like this other thing"
and on with _showing_ how it all works.

Or not, it obviously depends on the audience, YMMV, etc.

Good luck!


[1] http://artofsystems.blogspot.com/2009/06/semantic-web-or-generic-at-war-with.html
It's far from perfect (and the slides don't capture the flavor of a lot of the
spoken explanation that went along with them), but I suspect the approach
is much better for most people just starting out.

[2] The RDF Primer is the worst "offender", RDFa's is somewhat better, but
all the intros suffer some degree from the "learn to cook by way or a PhD in
organic chemistry" approach :-) :-)

Christopher St. John
Received on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 17:27:42 UTC

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