Monrai Blog

News about Cypher, Semantic Web, Natural Language Processing, and Computational Linguistics

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Razorbase Examples Part 2

I've released a second presentation on razorbase, this time showing the alternative ids action in action. I also give a demonstration of what isn't allowed to happen when people don't adhere to the Principles of Linked Data.

The world is refining how it consumes, people are demanding goods and services to be delivered in ever decreasing sizes that allow the consumer tighter control and choice over exactly what is consumed and how much of it. Cell phone billing went from long-term service contracts that spanned years, to pay-as-you-go plans and the concept of more grainular roll-over minutes gained popularity. Amazon has figured out how to break the whopping utility bills of their server centers into small, per-usage units which the consumer pays for as they go. Youtube turned the world of media on its head by allowing users to instantly share bit-sized video clips that can be consumed faster than it takes to clean your email inbox. The notion of buying a record album has been usurped by a iTunes feature that allows for purchases at the level of a single track of the user's choice. One could refer to this trend as the atomization of goods and services, and it's about to happen in the realm of the WWW (and data in general), and in a very big way.

I've created and used many Linked data/Semantic Web demos over the last decade, and each has taken a level of... imagination, in order to feel where this is going. Razorbase is the first time I've been able to really sit back and see our destination physically on my computer screen. The single most revolutionary feature of this service is the Information About page, which lists all properties of the subject in focus. If the subject contains a list of things, then you'll see all the properties belonging to all the results. Most linked data browsers I've seen attempt to push the entire description of a URI resource into the UI at once (or at least as much as one results page can hold). This is a very pre-atomization approach, akin to how a Wikipedia article is displayed. If you look up WWII on Wikipedia, you could easily spend an hour scanning the article and taking notes. The user would benefit more by having this information sliced and diced into bit-sized, labeled chucks, and placed on a platter for them to choose freely from... in a word, atomized. As long as the user has a general notion of what properties are (probably) availible, and what they can expect to be on the other end of those properties, then the user is able to (in most cases) easily build a mental map or strategy of how to get to the exact information they're interested in, no matter how complex or esoteric the connections involved, no matter how heterogenous the sets of data are standing between the user's start and end point. Once the user has a mental map, they only need 1) paved roads and 2) the right sign posts to keep them on their track. Razorbase provides sign posts by displaying blue arrows that take the user back and forth through the dataspace. It provides paved roads by e.g. using collaborative-filtering-esque techniques for exposing the most worn paths through the dataspace.

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