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…)

Communicating Science, making connections, and Call for contributors

communication,internet,Science,serendipity,technology,World wide — Danica @ 1:53 pm, March 5, 2012

Last week I interviewed Bora Zivkovic, the Scientific American editor, on Communicating Science, Connecting people, Open Access, Open Science, and many other topics I was interested in and I have long wanted to ask him. It was fun and a pleasure talking to him, as always. I wanted to share our conversation with you as Bora gave very thoughtful and perceptive responses. You can take a read at Australian Science.

This interview is a part of an editorial of the magazine. Beginning this January I have had an opportunity and quite a challenge to work as my daylight work/role – as an editor for the magazine, knowledge community, and blogging network. It’s a group of creative people, scientists, researchers, and bloggers gathered mostly from Australia, but also from other world wide places (Canada, UK, US, Europe).  As an editor in chief I have invited world wide science, technology, education, and internet bloggers, writers, and scholars who would like to contribute to Australian Science and join our community starting this March.  If you would like to contribute and be a part of a wider community, feel free to contact me, my email is provided at the end of the Editor’s note.

Here is the interview with Bora, enjoy!


Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe – Featured Interview

I have been interviewed last month for the Open Society Foundations Blog on various topics related to digital use, online social interactions, digital divide, social networks and young adults in Southeastern Europe. I’m finding some interesting patterns that show what kinds of strategies policymakers should use to create and implement in education, government, etc.

Currently, I’m into data analysis, EDA, and writing, so you may not see me around that often. Check my Twitter updates and for the urgencies, comments, sharing, and caring feel free to email me.

[crossposting] Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe

Danica Radovanovic, Oxford, UK

As an Open Society Foundations Chevening scholar at the University of Oxford in 2009, and now as a PhD student at the Oxford Internet Institute, Danica Radovanovic focuses on the use of social new communication technologies in Southeastern Europe. Following her presentation on the “digital divide” in higher education at a recent Open Society Scholarship Programs conference for alumni from the Balkans, I spoke to Danica about the impact of online social interactions, especially in the Balkan region.

Why is it valuable to research online social trends, and how do you see your research contributing in that area?

It is important to understand and evaluate how people, markets, the economy and politics are moving from offline to online worlds and vice versa. I believe that research in social media and new communication technologies plays a crucial role in analyzing our society (more…)

mysterious case of DR’s HDD: breathe and reboot

Do you remember the stories when computer engineer advices you to store all the important files on the partition D, and the partition C is for the Program files? Well, forget about it. The hard drive on my laptop is dead. In a seconds. No data saved. On both partitions. “But HOW?”, my friend screamed out this morning.

I have been using laptop computers for over a decade. Simply, my dynamic life style, frequent travels and the change of living and working places since the end of the 90′s determined that I will be using laptops. I had them many and experienced different malfunctions, software errors, but never so far had any major problems with hard discs, major enough to have complete crash and lost of data. I heard that  such situations usually happen on weekends when technicians are not working. Now I believe in that.

Yesterday morning I had this message on the screen: PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable. PXE-M0F: Existing Broadcom PXE ROM. I couldn’t start up the system, manipulate HDD from BIOS, find out what happened since I have relatively new laptop that is known for the excellent performance, durability, features. I tweeted out and facebooked on my ac.account the news and asked for help. I got some assumptions. Today, someone who happen to be computer engineer tried to boot my laptop from bios using Linux/Ubuntu, but failed. BIOS showed zero hard drive. Our fear became the worst case scenario that happened in really not desirable time in the project flow.

I haven’t back-up data in the last 25 days, at least. I haven’t saved my important files in the Dropbox either. I haven’t used the USB flash to back up my current work and projects I am working on, now. I lost them all in the seconds. We went to the computer service and the official technician immediately got me back in their working offices, opened the laptop, tested the hard drive on something few times, detected and announced it is dead. No help. No data extract. Nothing. They had to replace it with new one. I couldn’t say I was upset as much as I was shocked with the fact it actually happened without the reason and the fact that I am a good user, have the great laptop, and good life karma. We don’t know why did it happen. Neither the technician. He said in his twenty years of fixing computers sometimes things happen without the reason. In between what have happened today, I tweeted mostly and many of you have contacted me, and called me, even long distance. I am appreciating any of reaction of yours, kind words, support and help. That matters.

What I have lost is all data I’ve been working in the last 3, 4 weeks on the design of projects’ protocol, then research recent doc’s, e-Articles (that I can resume though). I also lost the TREE design on the mindmap, app files, all the relevant bookmarks (over 24 000!) for work and research that I will never be able to find or resume, many GB’s of photography (only 1/50  you can see on Flickr), over 300 GB of music (those around me know that music is “must” when I work), etc. I have less than 90 hrs to send the relevant documents before the deadline and I am writing this blog post while I download simultaneously eleven programs and services I may need, that I can think of at the moment, as I lost also the list of the existing programs in the previous life of this laptop.  I don’t even think about emails I lost in Thunderbird (please if anyone knows how to / if possible/ to bring back all the emails from different accounts, even those non existing, email me).  Some of you suggested there are disk doctors who can extract data, but I assume it costs a lot, and my technician told me that probably folks from Taiwan, who manufactured HDD, could retrieve the data.

But then, I believe that this event and data crash, and the new HDD will lead to newer and better things, more inspiring thoughts and productive ideas for the current and future projects. I perceive it as some kind of wonderful test. Test of the machine and test in life, and the relations with others. I didn’t tell you that I was writing a lot in my Moleskine notebooks in the last 24hrs. And there is more hard work for me in the next few hours. Nothing is lost, everything is on breathe and reboot.

My dear friend Simon Baddeley just sent me this quote that I will end my machine/data rumbling with:

“Sir Isaac Newton had on his table a pile of papers upon which were written calculations that had taken him twenty years to make. One evening, he left the room for a few minutes, and when he came back he found that his little dog “Diamond” had overturned a candle and set fire to the precious papers, of which nothing was left but a heap of ashes.
““O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the damage thou hast done”.

Updated: I got Serendipity moment today. The technician “fixed”, by good chance, my, as I thought previously broken touch pad, by simply unlocking it with two keys. Goodness me, I spent months at OUCS, with Oxford engineers who couldn’t solve the mystery of not working touch pad advising to buy wifi mouse as the procedure of hardware touch pad fixing would last a month or two. In less than two hours, technician du jour showed me how it works now. Oi!

program of Wikimania, livestream, other info

Those of you who are not being able to join this year conference - Wikimania 2010 in Gdansk, below you can find some important information.

Schedule of the sessions, panels, workshops, events, and their description is on this wiki page, with the program at a glance.

All sessions are broadcasted via iStream and you can watch livestreamings of the sessions here, grouped in four halls for each session during the day. This also refers to concerts, after presentations events, and tonight is the screening of the movie “Truth in Numbers” followed by a panel discussion.

If you are tweeting, using Identica or other microblogging service, use hashtags #wikimania2010, #wikimania. The irc channel is #wikimania-gdansk on freenode#wikimania2010.

Tomorrow, Sunday 11 July,  I’m chairing the morning sessions, two panels: Academic Researchers and Wikipedia, in Concert Hall, so tune in.

upcoming events/travels

From Thursday I’m off to UK tour visiting friends around England’s, ending up far North, and after New years Eve returning back to pack for States. I won’t be checking my email regularly, but will be here and there online. My mobile will be on, I receive and send tweet DM’s regularly, and wherever wifi allows me to be present – I’ll be networked. You can check my schedule on Dopplr (if you’re a friend and using it, let me know), and of course – my Twitter stream updates. I’ll bring with me lot of eBooks and literature to read, some of those are good old paper books that I’m looking forward to hold and read.

Also, I’m ready for Science Online conference on the east coast, USA this/next January, to meet again wonderful folks from all over the globe, interact and collaborate. I miss my friends and colleagues, so I’m looking forward to see you all very soon. If you didn’t signed up for the Friday morning workshop I’m giving on social media tools and services, please do register. The only requirement is to bring yourself and laptop.

Next year will be super-excited and challenging for me in every field, as the 2009. was absolutely wonderful bringing lot of great events, people, awards, places I’ve been living/working, and the great adventures. I’m looking forward to 2010, hoping to be even better, as the same I wish to all of you who are reading these words. In the next year, I’ll be writing for different media too, so you’ll read me on other places on Web. It will be challenging both for work and PhD research, dissertation and other activities, I don’t know where I’ll be next. All I know that I’d need to get disciplined and make some time during the year for myself and my personal life as 2009. was insanely working fun mixture of random nature escapades.

I may post in the mid-0f-travel adventure more of my thoughts or announcements, so stay tuned.


on global nomading

Wikipedia says that nomad is a Greek word νομάδες, nomádes, meaning “those who let pasture herds”, denoting communities of people who move from  one place to another, in other words a practice of continual movement with no fixed settlement. This rough definition implies to early communities of hunter-gatherers in Tibet or Siberia, but in industrial and information society it is a metaphor for aimless wandering, vagabonding from place to place. Modern nomads are high tech creators, frequent miles flyer’s, restless minds who have chosen nomadic way of life with no permanent residence, but rather moving from place to place. Either for work, education or personal reasons.

I didn’t think about this on deeper level, always took for granted when people would say: ah you’re world traveller, global nomad, as labeling in this context doesn’t mean much to me. And last night I had chat with an old colleague and friend residing in Amsterdam who recently returned from San Diego, California (one of the places I used to live) sharing the photos from the conference and time on the cliffs, as I was reminiscenting warm sunny winter Californian days from my studio in cold and foggy Oxford, when he said that we travellers, nomads never get bored. Which made me think: have I, by often travelling and changing place of living, working, studying, actually created in my subconsciousness denial not to be bored so I’d run for adventure, excitement, upgrading my knowledge and practice in work, meet new people, collaborate, search without the search, helping out where needed, being everywhere and nowhere? I assume a bit of all stated. And some more.

Which reminded me on one of my favourite novels – Baltasar and Blimunda, epic novel by Jose Saramago, where intuitive Blimunda who can see inside people, wanders for years for the search of millions of human “will” and together with soldier Baltasar in a quest of helping Bartolomeu, a renegade priest, to construct a flying machine. It all happens during inquisition time, in 18th century Portugal. We are living in 21st century where collaboration form of gathering inner “will” and building a flying machine is changed for gathering data and creating other forms of innovative endeavours where technomading is without the borders (even if it requires physical visa forms or paper) and individuum is free to move more than ever.

That provisory freedom may look for someone from aside as a great adventure, free spiritualism, carefreeness, but after years and years of global nomading, it becomes, in political, economical under threat to-become-insane-society, an urge to find a place or settle somewhere what would one call a base or a home. This apres nomading time was noticed even at our ancestors. Internet has gathered us into global tribe where many do practice global nomading online, but what about us who spend nights in hotels, waiting at the airports, celebrating important events in the air or conferences, out from family or friends?

I will return to this over and over, and maybe start writing somewhere my global travel notes (as I was suggested many times by my friends and family) and share them with you. This December and January is pretty full of travels and conferences [Englands, USA, Englands,  France?], everything is open. What is for sure is that I’m looking forward to sail the calm seas in the next period, looking for my future base. Encouraging news for the people in my country is visa-free system from December 19th, and is a reason plus for nomading around Europe, and beyond.

I will be joining Oxford Internet Institute this fall!

“So, you can take the girl out of academia, but you can’t take the academia out of the girl, eh?”

Those were the words of a friend of mine after I announced the news. Well, guess who can has PhD scholarship?

Last year I applied for Oxford PhD scholarships for 2009-2010, and completely forgot about it. Then in the April I was told I was selected and invited for an interview. All happened very fast and unexpected. It began with a call from British Council and professors from Oxford, when I was asked to come in person to the interview (last minute call) to Belgrade. Since I reside in Rome, I had to take the first plane next morning and I appeared in the early afternoon as the last candidate to be interviewed for this great opportunity. Actually I was about not to go, because it seemed impossible to make it to Belgrade in such short time, but my UN supervisor was encouraging me to give it a try.

Shall I mention that the interview was more like great, nice interaction between professors and me, carefree chat on social networks and media since professor and BC representative wanted to know more about the usage of the social networks in Serbia and they were all ears when I started passionately to talk about Facebook. Anyway, at the end of the interview I was told I will know the final result soon. So I went back to Rome, and seven weeks ago (I know, I know – I was and I am very busy at work to announce this to all of you officially) good news came right into my inbox: the official email from the Oxford University. I was super-happy and ecstatic and wanted to keep this to myself to summarize my thoughts and to think about this very well, and also to talk to my closest ones, to consult with the allies, and with my UN supervisor.

As much as I was happy – I had a huge dilemma that I was not facing for the first time, to choose between two good things: research or work. There is an eternal battle in me between academic/research life and practical work. The thing is I am equally engaged into both -academia and practical work, and since it has been two years since my Master thesis – I found myself still writing papers, publishing, going to conferences, storing for my research I’ve been developing in my head, travelling over the Europe and the United States, soaking and exchanging information, getting inspired. All in between, I’ve been working on practical things, still creating and contributing to the interwebs, interacting with people, making connections.

I officially accepted the offer to spend school year at Oxford Internet Institute, to work on my PhD research, and to interact with supersmart people, including my mentor dr Hogan. w00t!!! Or shall I say Blimey! I couldn’t be any more pleased. Yes, this means I am going to start the end of my research and writing of PhD dissertation.

For those who don’t know [and I doubt that those of you reading this don't know – there is zero % that you didn’t hear for Oxford Internet Institute] – OII is the academic mecca for scholars, researchers, web creators, superb centre for the study of the social implications of the Internet. Going to OII will allow me to continue my PhD research that is focused on communication practices in virtual communities of the young adults in Serbia, especially focused on Facebook. Spending time at OII will bring me a productive, collaborative, inspiring environment in which I can accomplish my plan. Plus, there’s amazing work at OII concerning social web and media.

I am aware that PhD process is painful, but I strongly believe that knowledge is power. I wouldn’t be working on things I did in the past, and now for the UN on developing projects, which foster the technology, sharing of knowledge, web of science, semantic web, if I didn’t believe in them. Also, being surrounded with wonderful and supportive people, I am even more determined to start writing the dissertation and continue my research, because this is what I want. I realized that PhD is worth all the craziness around and inside the academia, as well as there are things that I can do with a PhD that aren’t academia.

The practice and work will keep me to the ground and sane as much as I can be – I won’t quit my UN job, this was one of the first issues I was concerned about, but luckily I have really fantastic supervisor, dr Keizer, who fully supports and encourages me. So, with all “blessings” I shall continue working on science and technology, semantic web project and return back to my research for the final dissertation. It sounds difficult and it is, but I am enjoying it and I see great benefits for my long-term goals.

I can’t wait to begin my research and writing, exploring, examining, publishing, interacting, soaking energy from experienced and smart people, that will inspire me to produce interesting ideas and the outcomes for the future projects and work. Also, I miss UK at some points, I have friends and colleagues there, and oh I love British countryside, and London is very near. I am aware about H1N1/09 virus, but I hope British people are working on it, and I’ll try to boost up my immune system. All in all, I am grateful for this great opportunity and for the all good people who supported me in this, and in general. I couldn’t be more happier. w00t!

futurismo avantguardia

art,culture,general,photography,Rome,serendipity,World wide — Danica @ 9:30 pm, April 8, 2009

“Standing upright on the peak of the world we once more hurl our challenge at the stars!”

These are the closing words of the Futurist Manifesto published by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti on 20th February 1909 in the French daily “Le Figaro”. The piece violently shocked the Paris art and literary world. Modernity was exalted in all its aspects: speed, energy, revolutionary scientific discoveries. Paris was the new launching platform for young artists from all over the world: Spain, Italy, Russia, and Germany. Marinetti, whose culture was French, was often in paris in those years. In 1910 Picasso’s and Braque’s first cubist compositions hearalded a period rich in experimentation. The echo spread throughout Europe. On the wave of enthusiasm Marinetti led ‘his’ artists on an actual tour, organising shows in the main European capitals. With his great communication skills he got the manifesto published in a numerous foreign newspapers, very efficiently spreading the new message as far as Russia.

I didn’t write about the art for a long time, but this one definitely draw my attention. Last week I was visiting Scuderiedel Quirinale and the exhibition called: Futurismo Avantguardia which presents debut of futurism and the extraordinary correspondences and oppositions in the early avant-gardes up to the outbreak of the First World War.

It is interesting that this exhibition divided into 10 sections within the space as curated in collaboration with the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London. It was set up first in Paris (Oct.2008-Jan.2009), then now in Rome and lastly in London (June-Sept.2009).  At one spot, in parallel you can see the stylistic and philosophic contributions made by Futurism and Cubism to the birth of Russian Cubo-Futurism, English Vorticism, and American Synchromism, underscoring th basic contribution of the Italian avant-garde with Marinetti‘s insight concerning a new synthesis of space and time.

If you are in Rome in April and May – don’t miss this exhibition. Below is one of my favourite artworks Ciclista, by Natalia Goncarova, 1913.

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