Thursday, 4 June 2015

Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist: chapter 9

This week we're on to "Using RDF-Plus in the wild", where the authors introduce us to two real-world applications of the principles and practices explained in chapters 1-8.

Both "are about setting up an infrastructure for a particular web community". Data,gov, the US government project to put public information online in machine-readable form and FOAF – the acronym for Friend of a Friend, which is "a machine-readable ontology describing persons, their activities and their relations to other people and objects." (quote from Wikipedia).

 The subset of US government data the authors focus in on is the list of cases "about alleged violations of Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act" filed with the Office of Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity (FHEO). The original data gives a case number, and a list of possible reasons for the complaint – each of which is marked with either a 0 or a 1, to indicate whether or not it is the basis of the complaint –  as well as the county that the omplaint is filed in/relates to. The authors take us through ways of using RDFS and SPARQL to organise and process this data to make it more meaningful and useful, enabling human beings to work out where, for instance, alleged violations of Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act cluster, and which reasons form the basis of the most cases.

FOAF – started in 2000 – "began with a simple observation"
If we are to support social networks on the Web, individuals must be able to take control of their own data, host it as they please, manage it using whatever tools they please, but still interact with other users, regardless of the choices these other users make. (p196)
This, more than, demonstrates the adaptability of RDF, SPARQL and their associated languages, standards, frameworks, technologies – or however they should be described.

What's key is that "because Anyone can say Anything about Any topic, FOAF allows anyone to make novel statements about people, projects, and so on and to relate these statements to other statements already made."

Everything, in other words, can be connected to everything else, but by machines, and in ways that, ultimately, make sense to humans.

I think my inner hippie is showing…

My inner hippie. Yup. That's what I'm like on the inside.

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