Friday, January 29, 2010

29 January 2010: Linked

Frank van Harmelen tweets that a Linked Data tool/site named Uberblic has been released.

"OK, so what?" - that's become my common reaction to something 'new' in the semanticwebosphere. But I always read about it anyway, mainly just to make sure I'm keeping up.

But then I watched the video, and realised that maybe some of the Linked Data questions are finally starting to get answers. In particular, the problem of those in the wood not being able to see the trees: everyone making Linked Data (seen the cloud diagram recently?) has said it's vital to make data that links to the rest of the Linked Data and uses resolvable URIs, so that semantic browsers and applications can traverse from one link to another and do some fantastic inferencing and discovery.

Fine, except for the bit about 'semantic browsers and applications'. Where are they? The answer to that is: Tablature, OpenLink and the rest. But (usually) all these do is allow me (the human) to interact with the data in a pretty low-level way. What about the visualisations and applications that the semantic web promised? What's the point in making all this data linked if all we can ever do is manually traverse the links (quicker to click on an HTML page link) or just browse one source via SPARQL?

In summary: it's clear there's a lot of data out there, and a lot of ways to make data and put it out there (the likes of OpenCalais and entity-extraction systems are surely the future of large-scale document stores and Enterprise CMS systems), but what about actually using the data? Is anyone actually crawling the Linked Data web?

So what these Uberblic people have done (or at least seem to, from the vid) is provide a browsing tool that really does link this linked stuff together. The guy says "It provides a single point of access to data reconciled from data sources on the web. The service runs on the Uberblic Platform, an integration software for crawling, mapping, and fusing structured data." Watch the video.

And if they truly have done that, then maybe we're ready for the next steps. Maybe the semantic web can truly become query-able (to some degree) and maybe semantic apps that actually leverage all this linked data without knowing what's out there beforehand could become a reality.

Maybe then all those scripts I wrote to make convert Citeseer's dataset to RDF might be worthwhile.

Postscript: Here's an article from The Guardian touting the importance of Linked Data again without the specifics of what you're going to do with it (apart from the notion of bundling and selling the data to Estate Agents, which again reduces it to one actual source and no sense of discovery across uncurated data).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

28 January 2010: Barefoot II

Becky points out the following news story:

Shoes may have changed how we run

Conclusions: barefoot running is better for the body and prevents injuries because it makes you run differently, although transitioning to it takes time because of the extra use of calf muscles and achilles tendon. Well well well.

I refer readers to this blog back in August, to the least popular of my three YouTube videos and to just about anything on Doug's blog to do with running shoes. Frankly they could have saved a lot of research money and just read about it on the blogosphere.

Talking of research, for those who haven't seen it or for whom it doesn't seem massively important, the little OPSI project I used to work on while at Southampton Uni has now turned into a website called, where you can SPARQL your way through endless grey shoals of government data and maybe, just maybe, people are going to make interesting visualisations.

Makes you wonder what you could do with, say, other types of data held by public bodies? (Answer: use 4Store, at the very least).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 January 2010: Haggis

Yeah, yeah, I know, no blogs for weeks.

All very busy here though, and little time to blog. No time even to make more sausages, much to the disappointment of the British contingent in Kokomo who before Christmas all came over to our place and sampled some of the Lincolnshire specials. A number of them asked if I'd make some more for them, and I said I would - but as yet no time. Made bacon again too, and getting to the end of that now so there'll be more to follow soon. Gareth - yes, this time I'm happy enough with the process that I'll photo-document it so you too cane learn how to make delicious dry-cure back bacon for a fraction of the price you pay at Waitrose or Jungle Jims (depending on which country you're in).

Meantime, as the photo above indicates, Gloria somehow managed to smuggle me through an Argyle home shirt, which after receiving it caused the team to win two in a row (not so good since then, though). In other news, the highly controversial Christmas Lights of Kokomo video seems to finally have bottomed out in terms of viewers - final total for the year a little over 9200, 98% of which were viewers in the USA: seems it got a little viral here in Kokomo. Bill Barclay leaped up to 14000 views total, helped in part by a comment someone left on The Guardian website which included a link.

Lots of other news too, and no time for it now but here's the real reason for blogging today: HAGGIS.

Yup, Burns night is coming up and so it's time to get your haggis. If you don't know what it is, it's a Scottish meat product (and by-product) where you take the unused parts of the lamb (kidney, heart, lungs, eyeballs etc), pummel it to pieces and insert a lot of seasoning to mask the flavour, put it all into a container (probably intestine), and boil it for a couple of years until it's tender. As you might gather from the above, I don't like it. But...

Well, those good folks at Upton's of Bassett (I have no shame in promoting their store, particularly if I start actually selling the sausages they helped me create) have started making their own haggis, and have now invented the Hampshire Haggis (it has watercress in it, among other variations). And they've made a video detailing how they make it, and what the customers think...

So there... what more could you ask for Burns Night? That is, if you like Haggis. And if you like Robert Burns, come to that. My Nan once described him as "that dirty old man".

Don't know what she thought of haggis, though.