Open Linked Data, Serendipity, and the Future of Web

Being a Semantic Web, Open Linked Data, Open Source enthusiast, and at some point the contributor to the AP for the FOAF and other metadata standards, recently I had an opportunity to talk with Kingsley Idehen on his current projects,  views on the use of the Web technologies, Open Linked Data,  WebID, serendipity, and certain aspects of the Internet that influence our everyday lives. The interview is published for Australian Science.

Kingsley Idehen is the Founder & CEO of OpenLink Software. He is a recognized technology enthusiast and expert in areas such as: Data Connectivity middleware, Linked Data, Data Integration, and Data Management.  He is also a founding member of DBpedia project via OpenLink Software. Kingsley’s  background is quite varied: he had planned to become a scientist in the genetic engineering realm but ended up being more fascinated by the power Information Technology and its potential to reshape mankind. From science, accounting, and programming, he followed his scientific instincts to architect OpenLinkVirtuoso, a powerful and innovative open source virtual database for SQL, XML, and Web services. The Virtuoso History page tells the whole story about Kingsley’s vision and accomplishments. You can follow him on Twitter and read his Google+ posts.

Would you explain to our readers a bit about the OpenLink Software, for those in the Web technology who may not be familiar with it? Can you give us a story about the inception, history, work and achievements of the OpenLink Software?

OpenLink Software develops, deploys, and supports bleeding edge technology covering the following realms:
1. Relational Database Connectivity Middleware — ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET, OLE-DB, and XMLA Drivers/Providers
2. Disparate Data  Virtualization
3. Personal & Enterprise Collaboration
4. Relational Tables (RDBMS) and Relational Property Graph (Graph DB) based Database Management Systems
5. Federated Identity Management.

I founded OpenLink in 1992 with open database connectivity middleware supporting  all major RDBMS products as our focus. By 1998 we evolved our vision to include RDBMS virtualization, and by 2000 we decided that the Semantic Web technology stack provided all the critical standards that would enable us extend data virtualization to include other data sources and formats beyond the RDBMS.

OpenLink was initially associated with dispelling the performance myth that undermined the early promotion of the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard from Microsoft. In the Semantic Web and Linked Data realms our Virtuoso hybrid data server underlies critical parts of the Linked Open Data cloud (starting with DBpedia which lies at the core) as well as offering the largest publicly accessible Linked Data space on the planet, against which anything (human or machine) can perform ad-hoc queries that drive lookups while also aiding the emergence of other Linked Data Spaces on the LOD cloud.
Naturally, our technologies are used extensively across enterprises worldwide due to performance, scalability, and security that underlies every item in our product portfolio.

Is there any existing tools and methodologies developed by either you or your team in the OpenLink Software or others that you would like to mention? 

* High-Performance ODBC Drivers for all the major RDBMS databases
* ODBC Drivers for the World Wide Web — yes, the World Wide Web of Linked Data (or LOD cloud) is exploitable and accessible to any ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET, or OLE-DB compliant application
* Virtuoso — high-performance and massively scalable hybrid DBMS (relational tables and property graphs).
* Linked Data Middleware — that transform output from a plethora of Web 2.0 and SOA services into structured Linked Data
* URIBurner — a public instance of the middleware mentioned above that enables anyone transform existing data into Linked Data
* OpenLink Data Spaces — platform for enterprise and personal data spaces that includes in-built Federated Identity and sophisticated Linked Data functionality
* DBpedia — Linked Open Data Cloud nexus that runs on Virtuoso (re. Linked Data Deployment and Data Management).

Some useful links and downloads: ODBC Drivers for the World Wide WebVirtuoso Commercial EditionVirtuoso Open Source Edition,  Linked Data MiddlewareURIBurnerOpenLink Data Spaces, and DBpedia.

Do you collaborate with similar organisations/institutions worldwide in the field of the Open Linked Data? Would you tell us more about your involvement within the DBpedia project?

Yes, as demonstrated by DBpedia (Frei University and University of Leipzig), Sindice (DERI), and Bio2RDF(Carleton University and others).

Virtuoso is the Linked Data Publishing and Database Management system behind DBpedia. Net effect of Virtuoso is you have a massive collection of Linked Data derived from Wikipedia that’s available to the entire public. This instance enables you browser through pages that describe entities while also delivering ad-hoc query functionality via a Web Service that supports the SPARQL query language, results serialization formats, and HTTP based wire protocol.

In addition to providing the live instance, we also provide quality assurance, support and maintenance. Publishing and maintaining DBpedia is a challenge, and we even offer packages that enable others instantiate personal or service specific instances via Amazon EC2 AMIs (virtual machines).

DBpedia is basically germination of the seed planted by the Linked Data meme published by TimBL circa. 2005. In turn, DBpedia (more…)

WWW2012 and Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big

Brief information for those coming to WWW2012 – you can check the programme. On Monday I will be presenting at ”Making Sense of Microposts”#MSM2012 workshop.  For others – please take a look at the article I wrote for the Scientific American on better understanding the phatic element of communication as applied to online discourse and networked connectivity.

Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big  

Social media and micro-blogging have been fascinating to me ever since I first encountered them. In the last 3-4 years there has been an enormous growth in social network sites and in the numbers of people using them, especially on the two most popular services, Facebook and Twitter.

That fascination grew to become a doctoral research focus that has explored the different forms of communication dynamics being formed online. I was, in particular, curious why people post trivial, mundane updates and messages to each other – a behavior I have come to term “phatic posts”. It’s not just young people, but also professionals from different walks of life as well as internet researchers, including myself.

I used to tweet from the airplane before taking off, or being alone at the airport at 5am checking into Twitter to see if anyone’s awake in “my time zone’’, or logging in to my Flickr account to see if someone commented on my latest photography. I was not the only one engaging in such behavior; au contraire, many internet researchers and geeky people I know would demonstrate similar patterns of (more…)

Call for Papers: Making Sense of Microposts

I would like to inform you that Call for papers for the workshop Making Sense of Microposts (MSM) at the Extended Semantic Web conference 2011 is announced. The workshop is interdiscipinary and gathers academics and professionals from the Semantic Web technologies and Social/Web Science studies. Also, have in mind that we will have a best paper award. (I’m on the Steering committee.)

Information about the topics of interest, submissions, and important dates could be found on the MSM web page.

“Making Sense of Microposts” (MSM), will cover the topics of: information extraction and leveraging of semantics from Microposts; making use of Microposts’ semantics; and social studies related to Microposts that could help build appealing new systems based on this type of data. The workshop has two main points of difference from existing Social Semantic Web workshops which partially treat Microposts: (a) the interdisciplinary nature and interest to bring together the Social Sciences and Semantic Web research; (b) the focus on Microposts’ usage in making appealing tools for Web users and showing how the Semantic Web makes a difference in those applications. One of the main goals of MSM is to bring together the researchers from various disciplines treating the question of Microposts from different angles. We are particularly interested in submissions describing theories from the Social Sciences related to the creation and potential usage of Microposts that could inspire the creation of data structures, ontologies and finally interfaces that make advanced use of Microposts. We also envisage submissions that describe the application of Semantic Web technologies, either in enabling the inference of new facts, or the gleaning and enriching of knowledge from collections of such data.

International conference for Digital libraries and Semantic Web 2009

electronic publishing,events,Italy,open access,Science,semantic web,technology — Tags: — Danica @ 2:15 pm, July 30, 2009

If you’ve recently noticed on my Twitter statuses mentioning ICSD2009 and reviewing papers and communicating with other reviewers and scientists, it was because two weeks ago I was denoted a role of Programme Committee member for the scientific conference on digital libraries and semantic web. Since I’ve never been before in the conference Board or in the position as reviewer of scientific papers – this experience is super interesting to me as I’m dedicated to these both acts.

There are plenty of good quality papers (at least those I’ve read) that cover variety of topics: from open access, open standards, content development (re:tools and techniques), to architecture for Semantic Web, methodologies, vocabulary and taxonomy development, intelligent agents in sem web, all in all very interesting compilation. If you happen to be in Italy in September 8-11, 2009, don’t miss this conference taking place at the University of Trento. More about it on ICSD 2009 web site and topics to be discussed on the conference.

Follow Friday: Twitter’s display of relations affection?

I got in the previous weeks the feedback by known or unknown Twitterers who are “Follow Friday”-ing me by displaying,  recommending to the others my Twitter ID for various reasons, mostly because they think people they recommend are cool or worthwhile following. Since this communication practice repeated last Friday,  I’ve asked Twitterers what is follow Friday and who actually came up with this idea and why?
In the last few days I’ve read two good blog posts: danah boyd’s view on the communication phenomena of retweeting and Jonathan Zittrain’s thoughts on technical 140 characters barriers on Twitter. Having in mind  that retweeting process is one of the conversation practices on Twitter,  the same can be denoted to the Follow Friday movement as one of the communication behavioristic conventions.

How Follow Friday works? Basically,  Follow Friday helps people recommend other Twitter folks. As a way of recommending people you follow to other users on Twitter, Follow Friday  is presented with hashtag #followfriday or #ff. The purpose is that those who are being recommended would (potentially) gain new followers. After suggesting the name of the twitterer,  the practice is to write why you are recommending them as suggested people to follow. Some twitterers follow this practice, but many people don’t as they just write Twitter user names without stating the reason(s) why one should follow those people. Otherwise, the conversation moves into typical micro memes. Here is an example of the correct usage of FF:
@danbri  because he is the semantic web expert and co-founder of FOAF #followfriday.

The twitterer who came up with the idea of  ‘”Follow Friday” movement said that #ff has lost a lot of its original charm because too many people are making wild recommendations without any justification, in order to collect and get more random followers. I was also asking why Friday? No one so far explained this, either because is TGIF expression that many users say on Twitter every Friday, as it is more relaxed day for casual gaining new followers or because the idea that the creator of this movement likes the music of The Cure (read: Friday, I’m in love! aka I am sharing love for these followers).
This week I had a chance to talk with, above mentioned Twitterer,  Dan Brinkey on work matters, and later I was contemplating the idea of Follow Friday concept as micro communication FOAF (Friend of a friend) convention, and came to conclusion that beside recommendation and connecting people aspect, Follow Friday has communication facet of “describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do” . Twitter user ID’s are describing people, person who recommends the friend is the link, and description line “why I recommend this person to be followed” presents things they create or do. This way FF allows people and groups of people to describe social network relations without the need for a centralization.

Beside suggesting other people to follow and explaining why those people are useful to follow, there is another phenomena that I’ve noticed last Friday: massive retweeting of Follow Fridays of other people tweets. I was in wonder why would people retweet them and came to the thoughts of meta –meme Twitter user’s tagging  and collecting potential followers. This would be an example when sharing (info, contacts) is not caring but rather micro trading (silent request for an expected requirement of following back). What follows next  is an interesting to investigate as  communicative (non) behaviour amongst Twitterers that is in permanent flux.

My text on Semantic Web and eResources

I was browsing these days academic online databases and realized that some of my old papers gone missing.  Actually I was looking for a specific one that I wrote in the beginning of 2002 after Semantic Web conference in Rome, being inspired and I gave a talk at the annual Scientific conference in Belgrade, in the autumn of 2002, and the paper was later published in Proceedings that are removed and don’t exist online. I was talking about Semantic Web fundamentals and I had a feeling I was talking science fiction in front of the audience, but every now and then someone ask me to read my writings on semantics, standards, metadata, ontologies.

Since this was my first text on semantic web and the electronic information online, I’ve digged around  to find it in open accesses repositories and found some traces – though in Serbian and though in Cyrillic.I know that many international people who do speak English would like to read it, especially my metadata colleagues and supervisor who adores ontologies. Well, my academic, research and practioner’s interests have moved on since 2002, and frankly speaking I’m not huge fan if i had to chose, but anyways, would be nice if someone translate this text from the official publication from the conference.

Don’t expect fireworks as this was first text on semantic web being published in Serbia or Yugoslavia then. Since I don’t have time at this moment to upload all of my talks, papers, presentations, {I need idea how to sort out all of my papers, talks, texts, publicaitons in general – here}, and the wiki I’ve created some time ago – I’ve abendoned, and other presentations are either on SlideShare or some wiki, here’s and abstract in English, and if there’s someone interested to translate the text from Serbian into English – please do write at danica [at] danicar [dot] org, or give just send me the feedback. It’s very interesting text with some primers for those who want to know about semantics.

Danica Radovanović


The usage of electronic resources depends on good possibilities of searching and concept of the Semantic Web can be convenient solution for information retrieval (IR). WWW (World Wide Web) enables, with help of the search engines and huge number of available (meta)information, data that can satisfy user information need, but only at some extent. At the same time, there are more and more research efforts to increase the efficiency for IR until one gets as much as relevant information on the Web. As one of the latest results of this W3C efforts, Semantic Web presents a group of organized technological standards, IT products, and information linked in such a way that can be easily indexed and semantically filtrated through process of classification on global level. Semantic Web and its principles make IR easier because it can be also observed as very useful and successful way of representing data on WWW or as a group of globally linked databases. The architecture of Semantic Web consists of three important IT standards: XML (eXtensible MarkUp Language), RDF (Resource Description Framework) and the ontologies. Semantic web is still under development and is not in common usage but it promises that it will radically improve the possibility of searching, sorting and classification of information.

Key words: Semantic Web, electronic information resources, information retrieval, information representation, Internet, standards

Modernity 2.0 -sociocybernetics

Speaking of Italy, there is an interesting conference about emerging social media technologies and their impacts this summer in Urbino, Italy, from 29th June to 5th July 2009.  The 9th International Conference of Sociocybernetics will take place at the Faculty of Sociology of University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”. More about the programme and keynote speakers in the upcoming days, and here is the list of accepted papers that cover areas of Cybernetics and Web Science, Social systems and economic models of the web, Culture, knowledge and social impact of the Semantic web, Cyberculture, knowledge and local communities, and many other topics that you can check out in the Call.

Let me know if you are attending this conference, surely I’ll be in Urbino on Modernity 2.0 and interact with many academics.

In Rome: i’m back!

Hello everyone! Finally I’m trying to get back to blogging as I’ve been lazy blogger in the last three weeks, with a good excuse: I am in Rome, Italy for now the fourth week running around, working, settling, apartment searching, adjusting, non-learning Italian yet, trying to keep up with emails. Thanks to all of you for congratulating me, writing me emails, asking how I am – I appreciate you being a part of my micro-community.

First about the work, as many of you asked: I work in the great surrounding, knowledge – sharing – science information – technology – open office with internationals in UN, FAO, networked with the lot of people internally in Roman high institutions as well as externally with EU organizations in a collaborative project that you’ll hear when it’s time to be heard. I’m very honored to be in charge from UN side for this project and thankful to my colleagues and especially my supervisor who gave me full trust and confidence that i can do it. This is great challenge in my career and I am so happy about the work that is developing because it has great future and even greater purpose in technology, science and semantic web, web 3.0. w00t! Every beginning is a bit odd as you try to keep up with everything what’s being done so far, to learn, study a lot, get familiar with new things – and sometimes I feel like a small ant amongst super-smart giants, but on the other side there are lot of colleagues on and off UN who are really owing me with their kindness, their efforts to help me and also learning things from me. One of the surprises from digital life was that half of them read this site/blog or any other written word on Internet. The other half is on Twitter interacting or following me. Those who are not familiar with UN structure would think it’s uptight, too formal institution and I agree – but I am so damn lucky to be in creative, innovative, cooperative part of this institution that is easy-going, relaxed, but hard-working at the same time. So, I am very grateful for being a part of it, participating and creating something new. In the upcoming posts you’ll read more about technology, life and web 2.0 and web 3.0 for sure.

Rome, and Romans: you all know that Rome is the city of architecture per se, no words here to describe how blessed I am to live in this ancient, eternal city (some of the photos). Every corner has it’s own story, many social and cultural characteristics remind me on Belgrade (well, it’s only 1.5 hrs by plane), many differences I’m trying to accept as they are: from the everyday functioning to people’s modus vivendi (referring to Roman people). Everything is assuming and there are no rules. Italians rarely speak English, or not at all. It can be difficult for everyday life – off work, but hopefully if you have some basics in old Latin or French, you can easily catch up with the conversation and understand what it is about.

Oh, I have so many stories to tell so far, but first settling and getting my base here. What I really like in my new Roman life here is that I have enough free time (oh weekends, I love you!) to do whatever I want, not to think about my PhD dissertation (for now), not to think about zillions of freelance projects I’ve been doing lately, exhausting late nights working for 14 hours and more, thinking about the existence or global economy crisis.

I’m trying to establish network of contacts and friends here, and if you happen to read this and you are in Rome, or planning to come - say hello and email me. There are many of my friends coming here and I’ve been meeting few since I’m here, please follow my Dopplr or LiveStream for more accurate information, and I’d be more than happy to meet you for aperitivo, walk, chat, hanging out in Rome.

More writings to come soon…

I am joining the UN in March!

I have been keeping this great news for about two weeks to myself and was trying not to burst it out in the online public, but now officially: from March 1st I am joining the UN (KCEW department at FAO) and moving to Rome, Italy! w00000t!!!!!

I am so ecstatic as everything happened all of the sudden (well, there were some indications around New years Eve and during my conference in US).

I’ll be working for UN as consultant on metadata standards, semantic web, web applications, new projects within the house and with other major world wide organizations,  in a word: I will be participating in creating the future of the Web! w00t!

Going to UN is a natural continuation and the new start of the good things to come. I’m so happy and excited as all the years of my studies, practice, information technology visions, projects, permanent learning, writing, talking, communication, networking with others, activism, will be placed on the right spot, a place that is super stimulative and (for me) futuristic. Remember the connecting dots from Steve Job’s Commencement speech at Stanford? Well, this is exactly happening to me. Everything I’ve been working on since the age of six (6) and upwards have oh so meaning.

And about serendipities, real life serendipities: I remember in 2002 I was in Rome at Semantic Web conference where I was for the first time professionally and deeply introduced to semantics on Web, and later I’ve tried through talks, presentations, writings to spread it to my country but seems then and now noone was really interested in this. I never thought that I will go back to my long forgotten passion. Also, a colleague who was on that SW conference reminded me the other day that I was throwing the coins (oh well, I remember valuable 2euro coins and eating gelato whilst sitting on the edge of the fountain) in Fountain di Trevi assuring me that I’ll come back to Rome, as I never thought about this possibility afterwards. Looks like that the future of the web has reached me and I am so overwhelmed, everything is new for me and challenging.

In the next few days I am getting introduced to a new system, programs, new colleagues, projects, but before that I am finishing what I need to finish in Belgrade and beyond, packing (boxes, luggage’s and mess around me), and looking for a new apartment in Rome. I will reside in Rome (w00t!) which is wonderful as I will be working and collaborating with International team and speak and use English, but after work I will learn (or re-establish my forgotten Latin) Italian, and soak myself into Italian culture (super ecstatic as I’ve always inclined to Mediterranean lifestyle). I started to read Repubblica’s technology and science section with a little help of Google translator, but you’ll see me talking fluent Italian very soon. Those who live in Rome, say Halo or Ciao to me when you see me!

Did I tell you that I am super excited that I will work for the great cause and create the dots for the futuristic Web, participating in great world wide projects?  I can’t wait to begin with my new job, programs, and feel so blessed to be a part of an invigorating web of science, IT environment.

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