Chicago. Ill Paul Gearon, DuraSpace Technical Lead and Developer, is the technical guru behind the Mulgara project (now available in version 2.1.2), a DuraSpace- sponsored technology focused on providing highly scalable semantic technologies. His semantic Web experience extends from data storage to ontology modeling and rules systems. In a recent interview Gearon referred to a quote from Tim Berners Lee on the Semantic Web and his ideas around “linked and open data:”
“The Semantic Web isn’t just about putting data on the web. It is about making links, so that a person or machine can explore the web of data. With linked data, when you have some of it, you can find other, related, data. ” (http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html)
“People have different ideas about what the Semantic Web really is,” said Gearon. In his case it is the use of Semantic Web standards as defined by the W3C. It is these standards–the RDF standard in particular–that Mulgara implements and supports
(http://www.w3.org/RDF/). The application of this standard allows you to do a number of things.
RDF is a framework that allows you to describe stuff. Individual “Things” are provided with identifiers known as URIs, which can then be given multiple characteristics to describe these individuals. Any abstract concept or real person or thing can be given an a unique identifier. A company is an abstract personification concept, for example, and can be given an identifier. Individuals can then be related in arbitrary ways, which enables the data to become a “Web.” The choice of URIs for identifiers then allows this web to extend across the internet to other data, opening up a whole world of opportunities.
URIs can be used to describe people and “things” that are part of organizations or universities, for example. Knowing the relationships between these entities lets you know what to look for. People versus books can be recognized because types are defined by RDF. “While some level of semantics can be encoded in RDF, true semantics are an emergent property as the connections build up into a coherent network of information,” explains Gearon.
Information about the Semantic Web
•Linked Data Web site: http://linkeddata.org/
•London Meetup for “Linked Data–Connect Distributed Data across the Web”
Sept. 9, 2009: http://linkeddata.org/events/london-meetup-september-2009
•Paul Miller’s Cloud of Data blog provides Semantic Web insights and resources: http://cloudofdata.com/