Thursday, July 31, 2008

Problems of Social Media/Networks on the Social Web

Just found about Seesmic, and I'm getting really hooked on it. Here is a quick video, where I am asking about problems of social media and social networks on the social web. Thanks to the people how have commented on my previous post. If you are a real social media person, you may be on seesmic and I would love to here your comments about this problem!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Data Portability and the Semantic Web

In the last week, I started emailing back and forth with @michellegreer. After her wuffie blog post, I got in touch with her about social media and stuff, because it is something that is starting to interest me a lot.

At the same time, in the Semantic Web community, the International Semantic Web Conference is coming up and the submission deadlines are around the corner (meaning Friday!). One of the new workshops that are going to take place is "Social Data on the Web", which I am really looking forward to! This workshop puts together my new interest of social media with the love of my research life: Semantic Web.

The last couple of days I started reading about Social Media, Data Portability and the Semantic web and came up on a lot of cool papers. I still of tons of stuff to read, but I am going to recommend one that stands out the most right now: "Data Portability with SIOC and FOAF" (slides of the presentation here). I immediately emailed all this stuff to @michellegreer because I new she was going to be at Social Media Camp Austin, and host a session on Data Portability. (Just this morning we talked about holding the session together, even though I am in Zurich right now. I was able to get my voice across for a couple of minutes, but looking forward to talking more about this at the next Semantic Web Austin meetup.)

Once you understand the interaction between the Semantic Web and Social Networks, you realize that the Semantic Web is THE solution to all this Data Portability problem.

Quoting from the paper:
To better enable a user's access to multiple sites, portability between social media sites is required in terms of (1) identication, personal profiles and friend networks and (2) user's content expressed on each site, whether it is about blog posts, pictures, bookmarks or any type of data. Such portability would allow users to easily exchange content between services, or merge and share their social network between various websites.
So what is FOAF and SIOC?
Two Semantic Web projects SIOC (Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities) and FOAF (Friend of a Friend) can be combined to enable data portability between social media sites:
  • The FOAF vocabulary allows us to represent people and their social networks, providing the social network component of data portability. It can be used in a combination with the the OpenID identity system.
  • The SIOC vocabulary is an open format for expressing information about user-generated content in an interoperable way. It provides the content object component of data portability. The SIOC Types module can be used to further specify different types of Social Web / Web2.0 objects that we may want to describe.
If you read the paper and look at the slides, you will definitely realize how FOAF and SIOC can solve the Data Portability problem.

I still have a lot more reading to do! But more importantly, I would like to know what common social media users think about the current problems of social network, social media, etc. I would really appreciate your comments.

In a couple of weeks, we will be hosting our next Semantic Web Austin meeting and this will be our first topic! So hopefully I can get a lot of feedback about problems the common users see in the social media world, and see if/how the Semantic Web can help.

Monday, July 28, 2008

BBC Music just got on the Semantic Web boat!

Last week I wrote about how Crunchbase data is now in Semantic Web format as Linked Data. This week it is BBC Music! On one of the developers blog, they posted the news.

Enough said! Just read that post! So glad that the Semantic Web is becoming a reality!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What do the Semantic Web and Crunchbase have in common?

Last week Crunchbase announced the release of their API. Austin Startup is starting to use it!But more interesting, is the Semantic Web side of it.

Even though I don't know him personally (but I follow him on twitter), Benjamin Nowack is a true Semantic Web evangelist. He is a semantic web developer and runs a web firm calles Semsol. He has developed really cool Semantic Web framework over Apache and PHP. So for all you php developers who are interested in getting on the Semantic Web boat, this is a company that you guys have to check out!

But going back to Crunchbase and the Semantic Web. Last week, I saw Benjamin's tweet that he was starting to play with Crunchbase API and was going to start creating a SPARQL interface. In less than 3 days, Benjamin organized a how Semantic Web portal for accessing Crunchbase data in RDF: Semantic CrunchBase. I am amazed on how somebody so passionate can get stuff done so quickly and start exposing data into the Semantic Web.

What I really like is CrunchBase's response on twitter: "much props Ben. looking really good so far. Maybe we should look into this whole 'semantic web' thing :) keep us updated". You know what CrunchBase, you should definitely get on the Semantic Web boat! And not only you, but everybody else!

Hopefully very soon we will see a cloud in the Open Link Data that belongs to CrunchBase. And then all blogs that show info from CrunchBase (like AustinStartup) can also get interested in getting their data on the Semantic Web.

Once again, this reminds me of something important that the Semantic Web community needs to do: offer easy and straightforward ways to export data from the "web2.0" onto the "web3.0" in RDF format. Next time somebody like CrunchBase comes along, they can create their own SPARQL interfaces and extract RDF data easily, without the need of somebody like Benjamin (no offense at all! On the contrary... your work is brillant, but you will not always be available to create SPARQL interfaces for everybody... or will you?)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Semantic Web in Costa Rica and Spain

I just realized that blogging is a hard thing to keep up with. So a short summary on what I have been up to.

Before the Semantic Web Austin launch party, I was in Costa Rica at a Workshop for biologist and computer scientist, acting as a Semantic Web evangelist. This is a great community that can really benefit of Semantic Web technologies, because they need to integrate their data.

After Costa Rica, I went back to Austin to be at our launch which was a huge success. Many people blogged about it and now the LinkedIn group has more than 50 members. We are planning to have a first meeting in mid August at the Conjunctured space (congrats you guys!!!)

Now I am in Europe till mid August and just came back from the Summer School of Semantic Web and Ontology Engineering. This was an incredible experience because I was with the gods and goddesses of the Semantic Web. Made excellent contacts but specially realized that all the theoretical work is done in Europe and some of the commercial work is done in the US (Twine, Powerser, PeoplePad, etc..). Semantic Web research is not being funded by US universities, partially because DARPA has realized that the Europeans are doing everything... so why should we spend money on the same thing. Lets hope that with this new administation, things are going to change.

Anyways, I am promising myself that I am going to take 20 min of my time twice a week to sit down and write, and not wait a month and a half for the next post.