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Re: [ontolog-forum] Southampton Uni on Linked Data (The Register)

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:18 -0500
Message-id: <4D88C31E.5080309@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 3/22/2011 7:30 AM, Ian Bailey wrote:
> Interesting that The Register is looking at this. No earth-shattering
> revelations though…
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/22/southampton_linked_data_semantic_web/    (01)

Thanks for the pointer.    (02)

I agree that there's nothing earth-shattering in it, but the following
comment is significant:    (03)

> However, finding wider enthusiasm expressed in Southampton for
> Sir Tim Berners-Lee's relatively newborn and somewhat niche software
> modeling system [2] remains a big challenge.    (04)

That footnote [2] points to Sir Tim's 2006 paper on Linked Data, which
was updated in 2009:  http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html    (05)

But that paper still pushes RDF as "the standard".  As the Register
noted, getting people to use that "niche software" is a big challenge.    (06)

They quote one advocate as saying that RDF "is simple to use; it has
got this mystique amongst some people as being very complicated and
difficult, but it has a very simple data model."    (07)

Saying that RDF has a simple data model is like saying a Turing machine
is simple because it maps everything to n-tuples.  But sometimes a bit
more structure can make life a lot more pleasant.    (08)

As an example, I have been looking at CouchDB, which uses JSON.
Brief summary of CouchDB:    (09)

  1. A B-tree manager whose records are JSON expressions.    (010)

  2. Open-source, available from Apache, with bindings to all common
     programming languages, including JavaScript and PHP.
     http://couchdb.apache.org    (011)

  3. An HTTP interface for queries and updates, which uses map-reduce
     to take advantage of as many CPUs as your server may have.    (012)

  4. Documented by an O'Reilly book with a draft available for free:
     http://guide.couchdb.org/draft/index.html    (013)

At the end of this note is a sample JSON expression used by CouchDB.
Any quoted string could be a URI or it could be raw data of any length.    (014)

Suppose that you were a programmer working at a library, and your boss
asked you to convert the entire library catalog to Linked Open Data
and make it available via HTTP.    (015)

If you chose Couch DB, you could    (016)

  1. Read the O'Reilly book.    (017)

  2. Download and install CouchDB.    (018)

  3. Write a trivial program to map each record in the library catalog
     to a JSON expression very similar to the example below.    (019)

  4. Write a program to download every record from the library
     catalog, convert it to JSON, and store it in CouchDB.    (020)

  5. Write a web page that tells any web master anywhere in the world
     how to write an HTTP statement for accessing that DB.    (021)

With CouchDB, you could finish that job in one week.  What could you
do with RDF and currently available tools?    (022)

Of course, there is no requirement that the strings in JSON conform
to any particular ontology.  But that is also true of RDF.    (023)

JSON makes it easy to tag URIs with types.  In the following example,
anything on the left of a colon ":" could be a type in the ontology.
That's more readable and more compact than RDF.  One JSON structure
also takes one DB access -- much, much less than multiple RDF triples.    (024)

John    (025)

-------------------------------------------------------------------    (026)

Source: http://guide.couchdb.org/draft/json.html    (027)

   "Subject": "I like Plankton",
   "Author": "Rusty",
   "PostedDate": "2006-08-15T17:30:12-04:00",
   "Tags": [
   "Body": "I decided today that I don't like baseball. I like plankton."
}    (028)

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