Posts filed under ‘semanticweb’
Semantic Web search engines are few and far between – perhaps unsurprisingly given that two years ago Tim-Berners Lee said this period would be looked back on in twenty years as “the embryonic period” – but there are some in development.
Back in March, James Simmonds posted on his Semantic Web blog, rounding up Semantic Web search engines. One of the most interesting is Yahoo! Microsearch, which deviates from standard page searching and looks for content like microformats. Indeed, one of the listed examples returns the search term ‘Peter’ from Flickr, which spawns a map of users named Peter throughout the world, possible due to the location information on their Flickr profile page being recognised by Microsearch. If you’re not trying to find one of the most common first names in the Britain, searching for our office and Heriot-Watt provides map links to websites for our office and me.
This sort of example would be useful if a user could search for a photo tag and have a return of all geographical instances (where photos have been geotagged on Flickr, for example). A geography student searching for photos that have been tagged with something like ‘forest fire’ could be presented with an immediate worldwide snapshot of geotagged photos matching that description. All we need now is photo recognition software to geotag photos automatically
I read an interesting post recently, ‘So how about using RDFa in Microformats?’ In it, Mark Birbeck talks about combining RDFa and microformats, as opposed to using one or the other exclusively. For an entertaining example, either check the comments on the page or look at a mock-up profile for 24‘s Jack Bauer.
While RDFa is the W3C’s standard method for marking up data for the semantic web, microformats have become the de facto standard, due largely to the present-day implementation. Indeed, I blogged last year about microformats and the Operator extension, with Operator having gone through a few version changes since then, including – had I read the version history properly at the time – RDFa support.
I must admit to being tempted to the readily available methods of viewing microformats markup and running off to see what I could do – after all, it’s adding value by providing an automatic link (via Operator) to a map location or calendar entry of a meeting you’re running, for example. With RDFa, there just isn’t much available to view the marked up data: Semantic Radar (available for Firefox via the add-ons page) has been stuck on version 0.9 since February 2007 with the only other RDFa extension for the browser – imaginatively titled RDFa – on v0.1 and developed by the same party. Interestingly, the person had also made an add-on for detecting FOAF profiles, FOAFox, although it hasn’t been updated since September 2006.
Note: See comments for updated informarion regarding this.
If anybody uses Firefox (I’m sorry I haven’t looked at any other browser support – yet) and is interested in this sort of thing, I’d urge you to try some of these add-ons. It’s surprising how much value can be added with these kind of extensions: imagine a student reading an article about various historical battles and having immediate access (via the Operator extension, for example) to the locations of the battle sites on Google Maps?
If the big search sites follow Yahoo!’s lead in supporting semantic web standards, these methods will be implemented and supported more widely.