…and at the end, on the “What will it take” slide he is talking about an information system not design or architecture at all! It then occurred to me that there is a potential use for RDF an the semantic web here. If you can design some metadata that can describe all the important features of the 3000 designs Cameron has on his laptop then you might be able to create a search interface that can find best designs for any given environment.
Its a big leap to first describe the designs adequately with a certain meta description but I feel you just have to start and then it will get better as you figure out whats needed.
Even better than search is that you might get machines to take certain situations/problems (i.e. this much space, this much power, this much water efficiency etc) and automatically find design solutions to solve the problem(s). You might need to assemble a hospital/school/basic housing in the desert/jungle/mountains with only scrap wood/metal/bamboo with 2 people working on it who are only proficient in hammer&nail/tying-rope/chopping-wood etc
This is the first real-world use for the semantic web I’ve every thought about and once you realise what its useful for (i.e. making the real world machine readable) you can apply it to anything!
I need to start doing some research and getting into it!
This is a great TED talk from Tim Berners-Lee who created the internet. Here he talks about Linked Data and the importance of sharing and linking data.
Just as with his first break-through, the hyperlink, he realises that its the links that make things useful. To take this on step further the linking is how we embed mean into web documents. The same applied with data. Data by itself is not as useful as data linked to other data and this linkage is meaningful.
Linking was only half the story and Tim doesn’t talk about the importance of standardising the data format, which by the way he also underestimated with HTML and why web developers have had a nightmare with different web browsers interpretation of HTML. Data formats is the less exciting half of the equation but is going to be just as critical. Especially with numbers like dates, currencies, measurements (and their metrics) etc. I’m thinking (hoping, praying) that we’ve learnt our leasons from HTML and people know when and how to draw up a standard for data formats before this thing explodes.
Semantics in regard to HTML markup is a murky water. This is because web pages are usually not an essay style document, which HTML was designed to markup, and contain information that is not actually relevant to what the page is about. Examples would be: menus, shopping cart information, summaries of forum activity, and the other half of HTML design: user/human interfaces. To say or even think that HTML can encapsulate all the “meanings” that human language structures can come up with (which are actually infinite), not to mention the non-language structures found on web systems representing a computer system interface, is naive. It is also an assumption that has never been backed up by any standards body in argument and thats because its simply wrong. The Microformat standard and now POSH process seem to be unwittingly dealing with the problem without understanding it. This is actually an applied philosophy problem!
This article looks at ontology’s and compares traditional predefined fixed expert ontology’s with the current web trend of individually defined organically growing tagging of web content post-publishing that is becoming every more popular on the web.
It reviews the traditional methods and looks at how they are based on library’s who’s systems where designed to find a book on a shelf so a thus it had to have only one place in the catalog system. Continue reading “There is no shelf”