Posts Tagged ‘rdfa’
Today the Web celebrates its 25th birthday, and we celebrate the Semantic Web’s role in that milestone. And what a milestone it is: As of this month, the Indexed Web contains at least 2.31 billion pages, according to WorldWideWebSize.
The Semantic Web Blog reached out to the World Wide Web Consortium’s current and former semantic leads to get their perspective on the roads The Semantic Web has traveled and the value it has so far brought to the Web’s table: Phil Archer, W3C Data Activity Lead coordinating work on the Semantic Web and related technologies; Ivan Herman, who last year transitioned roles at the W3C from Semantic Activity Lead to Digital Publishing Activity Lead; and Eric Miller, co-founder and president of Zepheira and the leader of the Semantic Web Initiative at the W3C until 2007.
While The Semantic Web came to the attention of the wider public in 2001, with the publication in The Scientific American of The Semantic Web by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila, Archer points out that “one could argue that the Semantic Web is 25 years old,” too. He cites Berners-Lee’s March 1989 paper, Information Management: A Proposal, that includes a diagram that shows relationships that are immediately recognizable as triples. “That’s how Tim envisaged it from Day 1,” Archer says.
“There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things…. Whenever his enemies have the ability to attack the innovator, they do so with the passion of partisans, while the others defend him sluggishly, so that the innovator and his party alike are vulnerable.”
–Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)
The Semantic Web is not here yet.
Additionally, neither are flying cars, the cure for cancer, humans traveling to Mars or a bunch of other futuristic ideas that still have merit.
A problem with many of these articles is that they conflate the Vision of the Semantic Web with the practical technologies associated with the standards. While the Whole Enchilada has yet to emerge (and may never do so), the individual technologies are finding their way into ever more systems in a wide variety of industries. These are not all necessarily on the public Web, they are simply Webs of Data. There are plenty of examples of this happening and I won’t reiterate them here.
Instead, I want to highlight some other things that are going on in this discussion that are largely left out of these narrowly-focused, provocative articles.
First, the Semantic Web has a name attached to its vision and it has for quite some time. As such, it is easy to remember and it is easy to remember that it Hasn’t Gotten Here Yet. Every year or so, we have another round of articles that are more about cursing the darkness than lighting candles.
In that same timeframe, however, we’ve seen the ascent and burn out failure of Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA), Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs), various MVC frameworks, server side architectures, etc. Everyone likes to announce $20 million sales of an ESB to clients. No one generally reports on the $100 million write-downs on failed initiatives when they surface in annual reports a few years later. So we are left with a skewed perspective on the efficacy of these big “conventional” initiatives.
Cast your vote yet for The Booksmash Challenge? If not, you’ve got a chance to pull the lever for semantic technology for the contest, which is sponsored by HarperCollins and asks developers to create proof-of-concept apps using its OpenBook API that includes full access to select authors’ work.
Entered in the challenge is the KEeReader, a browser-based e-reading platform that brings the ability to identify concepts, entities and relationships within content and allow users to interact with it. Its chief architect is Eric Freese, who gave audiences at this past spring’s SemTech conference in San Francisco a first look at the platform, and who will be providing attendees at the upcoming Semantic Technology & Business Conference in NYC the latest insights on its place in the evolving world of knowledge enhanced e-reading. KEeReader adds a semantic angle to its book discovery one, opening the door to a vastly richer experience, says Freese.
“The two main goals of this are first to bring e-books into being first- class citizens on the web,” he says, benefitting from search engine optimization techniques for discovery, subscription to open Web standards to leverage the world of web resources like Wiktionary, and even analytics about book use for publishers to use in their business strategies. “The second goal is to unlock knowledge contained within the book.”
The W3C announced today that three specifications have reached recommendation status:
RDFa 1.1 Core – Second Edition
XHTML+RDFa 1.1 – Second Edition
As the W3C website explains, “The last couple of years have witnessed a fascinating evolution: while the Web was initially built predominantly for human consumption, web content is increasingly consumed by machines which expect some amount of structured data. Sites have started to identify a page’s title, content type, and preview image to provide appropriate information in a user’s newsfeed when she clicks the ‘Like’ button. Search engines have started to provide richer search results by extracting fine-grained structured details from the Web pages they crawl. In turn, web publishers are producing increasing amounts of structured data within their Web content to improve their standing with search engines.”
“A key enabling technology behind these developments is the ability to add structured data to HTML pages directly. RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes) is a technique that allows just that: it provides a set of markup attributes to augment the visual information on the Web with machine-readable hints. ”
Manu Sporny, the editor of the HTML+RDFa 1.1 specification, told us that, “The release of RDFa 1.1 for HTML5 establishes it as the first HTML-based Linked Data technology to achieve recognition as an official Web standard by the World Wide Web Consortium.” Read more
What’s new at schema.org?
According to Dan Brickley (here), changes start with two issues at the vocabulary level. The first is the addition of http://schema.org/sameAs, for disambiguating entities in structured markup, indicating when a single real-world entity is being described. The W3C proposal for the property, which essentially has the same semantics as owl:sameAs and which began life as sameThingAs, adds a property to Thing that makes it easier to indicate identifying URLs for entities being described. Reports Freebase, “This lets webmasters declare how their structured data should connect to the Knowledge Graph and opens up a lot of possibilities for mashups with the Freebase APIs.” Read more
Rich snippets – yep, they were a nice start, but Russian search engine Yandex thinks it’s time for something more powerful. Something it’s calling interactive snippets and a feature it’s branding as Islands for its search results pages.
Yandex says the new feature evolves from rich snippets, which CTO Ilya Segalovich refers to in the press release as “mere decoration.” Interactive snippets, in contrast, are actionable, letting users do things like book movie tickets, make reservations or pay bills right from the search page. Webmasters can choose to add this functionality to their web sites if they want to, and while it may get their business customers – especially those using smartphones and tablets – who want to make their transactions as seamless as possible, it does mean those users won’t be making the journey to the business’ own web site.
A favorite component of the Semantic Technology and Business Conference is the Lightning Round: an hour of five-minute talks given by excited executives and entrepreneurs fighting the clock to get across their ideas in just five minutes. If the participants went over the time limit (which was boldly displayed for all of us in the packed audience to monitor) they were very politely clapped off the stage. Surprisingly, many of the presenters had their speeches timed to the second, but others would have killed for fifteen more seconds.
At the end of the hour, the crowd of attendees left with brains stuffed to the brim with new ideas about a wide range of topics. The following are just a few highlights from the action-packed hour. Read more
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), and there are programs taking place all around the world from Bangalore, India to Washington, DC. The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with different disabilities.
GAAD is the brainchild of Joe Devon, a Los Angeles based technologist and entrepreneur. Devon says, “The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.”
Last year, I wrote a piece about the inaugural Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), and the strong connections between Semantic Web and Assistive Technology. Or rather, I posited that there were connections that were inherent, but not being maximized, or even explored.
One year later, I’m very pleased to report that things are progressing! There are now formal efforts to connect Semantic and Assistive Technologies.
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