Interesting semantic web stuff

It’s starting to feel like the world has suddenly woken up to the whole Linked Data thing — and that’s clearly a very, very good thing. Not only are Google (and Yahoo!) now using RDFa but a whole bunch of other things are going on, all rather exciting, below is a round up of some of the best. But if you don’t know what I’m talking about you might like to start off with TimBL’s talk at TED.

"Semantic Web Rubik's Cube" by dullhunk. Some rights reserved.
"Semantic Web Rubik's Cube" by dullhunk. Some rights reserved.

TimBL is working with the UK Cabinet Office (as an advisor) to make our information more open and accessible on the web []
The blog states that he’s working on:

  • overseeing the creation of a single online point of access and work with departments to make this part of their routine operations.
  • helping to select and implement common standards for the release of public data
  • developing Crown Copyright and ‘Crown Commons’ licenses and extending these to the wider public sector
  • driving the use of the internet to improve consultation processes.
  • working with the Government to engage with the leading experts internationally working on public data and standards

The Guardian has an article on the appointment.

Closer to home there have been a few interesting developments

Media Meets Semantic Web – How the BBC Uses DBpedia and Linked Data to Make Connections [pdf]
Our paper at this years European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC2009) looking at how the BBC has adopted semantic web technologies, including DBpedia, to help provide a better, more coherent user experience. For which we won best paper of the in-use track – congratulations to Silver and Georgie.

The BBC has announced a couple SPARQL endpoints, hosted by talis and openlink
Both platforms allow you to search and query the BBC data in a number of different ways, including SPARQL — the standard query language for semantic web data. If you’re not familiar with SPARQL, the Talis folk have published a tutorial that uses some NASA data.

A social semantic BBC?
Nice presentation from Simon and Ben on how social discovery of content could work… “show me the radio programmes my friends have listen to, show me the stuff my friends like that I’ve not seen” all built on people’s existing social graph. People meet content via activity.

PriceWaterhouseCooper’s spring technology forecast focuses on Linked Data []
“Linked Data is all about supply and demand. On the demand side, you gain access to the comprehensive data you need to make decisions. On the supply side, you share more of your internal data with partners, suppliers, and—yes—even the public in ways they can take the best advantage of. The Linked Data approach is about confronting your data silos and turning your information management efforts in a different direction for the sake of scalability. It is a component of the information mediation layer enterprises must create to bridge the gap between strategy and operations… The term “Semantic Web” says more about how the technology works than what it is. The goal is a data Web, a Web where not only documents but also individual data elements are linked.”

Including an interview with me!

You should also check out… a service to help link up equivalent URIs
It helps you to find co-references between different data sets. Interestingly it’s also licenced under CC0 which means all copyright and related or neighboring rights are waived.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2009-04-22

Amazing render job by Alessandro Prodan
Amazing render job by Alessandro Prodan

The open web

Does OpenID need to be hard? []
Chris considers “the big fat stinking elephant in the room: OpenID usability and the paradox of choice” as usual it’s a good read.

I wonder whether restricting the OpenID providers displayed based on visited link would help? i.e. hide those that haven’t been visited? It clearly wouldn’t be perfect – Google isn’t my OpenID provider but I visit lots, but it should cut down some of the clutter.

Security flaw leads Twitter, others to pull OAuth support []
The hole makes it possible for a hacker to use social-engineering tactics to trick users into exposing their data. The OAuth protocol itself requires tweaking to remove the vulnerability, and a source close to OAuth’s development team said that there have been no known violations, that it has been aware of it for a few days now, and has been coordinating responses with vendors. A solution should be announced soon.

Twitter and social networks

Relationship Symmetry in Social Networks: Why Facebook will go Fully Asymmetric []
Asymmetric model better mimics how real attention works…and how it has always worked. Any person using Twitter can have a larger number of followers than followees, effectively giving them more attention than they give. This attention inequality is the foundation of the Twitter service… The IA of Facebook does not allow this. Facebook has designed a service that forces you to keep track of your friends, whether you want to or not. Facebook is modeling personal relationships, not relationships based on attention. That’s the crucial difference between Facebook and Twitter at the moment.

When Twitter Gets Weird… [Dave Gorman]
“The difference between following someone and replying to them is the difference between stopping to chat with someone in the street or giving them a badge declaring that you know them. One is actual interaction. The other is just something you can show your friends.” Blimey – Dave Gorman clearly has a much better grasp of life, the web and being a human than the two people who attacked him for not following them on Twitter. As Dave points out he hopes that Twiiter doesn’t descend into the MySpace “thanks for the add’ nonsense”. Me too.

Google profiles included in search results [googleblog]
A new “Profile results” section will appear at the bottom of a Google search page, when it finds a strong match in response to a name-based search. But only in the US. To help things along remember to use rel=me elsewhere (here’s how).

Shortlisted for a BAFTA, launch of clickable tracklistings and the start of BBC Earth

Look, look clickable tracklistings, w00t!
Few will every know the pain to get this useful little (cross domain) feature live.

We’ve been shortlisted for an Interactive Innovation BAFTA
The /programmes aka Automated Programme Support project. So proud.

Out of the Wild []
Our first tentative steps towards improving the BBC’s online natural history offering. Out of The Wild seeks to bring you stories from BBC crews on location. Eventually this should all form part of an integrated programme offer.


Biological Taxonomy Vocabulary
An RDF vocabulary for the taxonomy of all forms of life.

On url shorteners []
Joshua Schachter considers the issues associated with URL shortening. Similar argument to the one I put forward in “The URL shortening antipattern” but with some useful recommendations: “One important conclusion is that services providing transit (or at least require a shortening service) should at least log all redirects, in case the shortening services disappear. If the data is as important as everyone seems to think, they should own it. And websites that generate very long URLs, such as map sites, could provide their own shortening services. Or, better yet, take steps to keep the URLs from growing monstrous in the first place.”

Interesting stuff from around the web 2009-03-20

Ben Seagal, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Calliau with the WWW proposal and first webserver at the WWW@20 celebrations, CERN
Ben Seagal, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Calliau with TimBL's original proposal and first webserver at the WWW@20 celebrations, CERN

Semantic web news

Linked Data? Web of Data? Semantic Web? WTF? [Tom Heath]
“Think about HTML documents; when people started weaving these together with hyperlinks we got a Web of documents. Now think about data. When people started weaving individual bits of data together with RDF triples (that expressed the relationship between these bits of data) we saw the emergence of a Web of data. Linked Data is no more complex than this – connecting related data across the Web using URIs, HTTP and RDF.”

The Programmes Ontology [BBC]
Yves has updated the programmes ontology to handle “temporal annotations” tracklistings and segments and outlets etc.

Twitter news

The Twitter Global Mind [Rocketboom]
Don’t understand what all the fuss about Twitter? Watch this. Yes it’s about social networking and communication but it’s also about realtime search.

Twitter to begin charging brands for commercial use [Brand Republic News]
Co-founder Biz Stone told Marketing: ‘We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.’ He would not be drawn on the level of charges.

Some interesting visualisations

Depressing Project of the Day: Stock Market, Set to Music with Microsoft Songsmith [Create Digital Music]
Thanks to Yves. The failing economy set to music.

Periodic Table of Typefaces on the Behance Network []
“The Periodic Table of Typefaces is obviously in the style of all the thousands of over-sized Periodic Table of Elements posters hanging in schools and homes around the world. This particular table lists 100 of the most popular, influential and notorious typefaces today. As with traditional periodic tables, this table presents the subject matter grouped categorically. The Table of Typefaces groups by families and classes of typefaces: san-serif, serif, script, blackletter, glyphic, display, grotesque, realist, didone, garalde, geometric, humanist, slab-serif and mixed.”

The open web

What is the Open Platform? []
“The Open Platform is the suite of services that make it possible for to build applications with the Guardian…” very nice, I hope others follow. I also wish the Beeb recognized it’s open projects (recognized internally that is).

RadioAunty feature update – twitter, scheduling and much more [whomwah]
RadioAunty is Mac app that allows you to listen to live and catchup BBC Radio. It’s a lovely app and is built on an open BBC platform :)

Monty Python DVD sales soar thanks to YouTube clips []
“Within days of the launch of the official Monty Python YouTube channel, sales of the DVD box set had gone up by 16,000% on Amazon”

Designing for your least able user [BBC Radio Labs]
Michael’s mighty post on SEO, accessibility and the joy of links. Read it.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2009-02-04

Hippos are more closely related to their whale cousins than they (hippos) are to anything else
Hippos are more closely related to their whale cousins than they (hippos) are to anything else

Tree of Life – evolution interactive – Darwin 200 – Wellcome Trust
Want to know the concestor of two species then this is for you. And they have obviously spent time on the visual and interaction design and it’s great they have released it under a Creative Commons license. But, but because they haven’t provided URLs for each of the taxa it’s lost to the web, which is such a shame.

Google Latitude – see where you friends are in realtime [Google]
A service for sharing (primarily via your mobile phone) your location with friends and family and as such it’s similar to BrightKite and FireEagle. If Google integrate this into existing services, that is it becomes a service sat behind Google search and maps, then this could be a bit of a killer if only because that’s where people’s attention is. That said FireEagle is a generative location exchanging service.

How Twitter Was Born [140 Characters]
Interesting read about the birth and early days of Twitter.

Visualising our SVN commit history [whomwah]
Deeply cool.

Listen to Yourself [xkcd]
YouTube comments are a mess — this could the be answer, so might making the site about people and their videos rather than videos with some comments.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2009-01-25

I'm going to be a daddy -- w00t!

Some nice publicity for the BBC music site

BBC’s Semantic Music Project [ReadWriteWeb]
“As more projects like this take advantage of the publicly available metadata available, the beginnings of a real semantic web can finally take root.” What a nice thing to say.

BBC Artists: Getting down with semantic Web [CNET UK]
BBC’s new music site gets a great write up on cnet. But why is it that there appears to be an inverse relationship between distance from the team and an understand of the project’s importance and benefit?

More good news…

Twitter can has OAuth? []
Twitter API lead Alex Payne announced today that Twitter is now accepting applications to its OAuth private beta, making good on the promises he made on the Twitter API mailing list and had repeated on the January 8 Citizen Garden podcast.

Obama’s agenda for technology []
“Protect the Openness of the Internet: Support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.” I find the face that this is his first agenda point in “ensuring the full and free exchange if ideas through an open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets” surprising (for a politician) but truly wonderful.


Harder, better, faster, stronger [digital urban]
“David Hubert wanted to make a video of London but I didn’t have a camcorder, so he took pictures instead. In fact he took more then 3000 pictures and put them all together into a video lasting less then 2 minutes with excellent result”

2008 Year-End Wrap-Up

It’s become the tradition at this time of year for the cool kids to round-up the year with the most popular blog postings of the year; so I thought I would do the same.

My most popular photo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
My most popular photo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Here then are the most popular posts from the last 12 months (most popular first):

Web design 2.0 – it’s all about the resource and its URL — thanks to Simon Willison this is my most popular post of all time and of 2008.

QR codes for BBC programmes and some other stuff — a lunchtime of hacking from the wonderful Duncan Robertson gave us QR Codes for every BBC programme.

When agile projects become mini waterfalls — I have no idea why this is so popular, but there you go.

Interesting BBC data to hack with — the release of XML views of Radio AOD data, unsurprisingly, proved popular.

The all new BBC music site where programmes meet music and the semantic web — the first hint at what the BBC will be able to do by caring about its URLs, Linked Data and Domain Driven Design. If you put everything in the right place you can join it all up and create a coherent user experience. 

Osmotic communication – keeping the whole company in touch — I still think this is a good idea.

Find and Play BBC Programmes — announcing the embedded media player on programme pages — meaning all BBC programme support sites now include the latest TV and Radio media.

iPhoto photos not appearing in Front Row — how to fix iPhoto’s album.xml file when you migrate from Google’s Picasa to iPhoto. The fact this is still proving popular implies Apple still haven’t fixed the bug. 

Highly connected graphs: Opening BBC data — in response to Mike Butcher’s post on TechCrunch requesting the BBC open up their data and provide APIs I thought it worth pointing out there’s already some good stuff going on.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you BBC Programmes — the launch of a page for every programme the BBC broadcasts.

UGC its rude, its wrong and it misses the point — its still rude and it still means those that think of amateur publishers in these terms will continue to miss opportunities.

So there you have it. It’s been a good year and as I’ve discussed previously I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved, as reflected in many of these posts and the fact the Guardian also cover the work — which also had the added bonus that my parents finally have some idea of what I do for a living.