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DataPortability and Me: Introducing SIOC, FOAF and the Semantic Web
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DataPortability and Me: Introducing SIOC, FOAF and the Semantic Web


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DataPortability Lunch Meetup / London / 6th April 2008

DataPortability Lunch Meetup / London / 6th April 2008

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  • 1. DataPortability and Me Introducing SIOC, FOAF and the Semantic Web John Breslin DataPortability Lunch Meetup in London 6 th April 2008
  • 2. So many social media sites… * Source: Smashcut Media,
  • 3. Even more services…
  • 4. It takes a lot of time…
  • 5. Filling out your profiles, re-adding your friends…
  • 6. Uploading posts and content items to “stovepipes”!
  • 7. Social media sites are like data silos * Source: Pidgin Technologies,
  • 8. Many isolated communities of users and their data * Source: Pidgin Technologies,
  • 9. Need ways to connect these islands * Source: Pidgin Technologies,
  • 10. Allowing users to easily move from one to another * Source: Pidgin Technologies,
  • 11. Enabling users to easily bring their data with them * Source: Pidgin Technologies,
  • 12. What if I use multiple services and I want to…
    • Move the stuff I have on one service to another (e.g. move all my blog posts, comments, friends, etc. from to “Acme Blogs”)
    • Move all my stuff from multiple services to one third-party service
    • Centralise my stuff on my own service, e.g. my blog
    • See my stuff on a third-party service providing an aggregate view, like FriendFeed
    • Need data portability!
  • 13. (De-)centralised me
  • 14. … that connect you to other people
    • Discussions
    • Bookmarks
    • Annotations
    • Profiles
    • Microblogs
    • Multimedia
    Control your data: these are the social objects…
  • 15. The philosophy of DataPortability
    • As users, our identity, photos, videos and other forms of personal data should be discoverable by, and shared between our chosen (and trusted) tools or vendors
    • We need a DHCP for identity, a distributed file system for data
    • The technologies already exist, we simply need a complete reference design to put the pieces together
  • 16. The mission of DataPortability
    • To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end data portability
    • To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community
  • 17. The phases of DataPortability
    • Foundation
    • Invitation
    • Investigation / Research
    • Design / Documentation
    • Evangelise
  • 18. Using existing technologies, inventing no new ones
  • 19. Other initiatives “near” DataPortability
  • 20. Social networking fatigue
    • How many general or niche SNSs are you willing to register and / or interact with?
    • People search engine and aggregation sites are now appearing to compensate:
      • SocialURL – organise your online identities
      • PeekYou – matching web pages with their owners
      • Spock – organising information around people
      • Rapleaf – reputation lookup and email search
      • Wink – free people search engine
      • FriendFeed – subscribe to all of your friends’ feeds
  • 21. Social network portability and reusability
    • Need distributed social networks and reusable profiles
    • Users may have many identities and sets of friends on different social networks, where each identity was created from scratch
    • Allow user to import existing profile and contacts, using a single global identity with different views (e.g. via FOAF, XFN / hCard, OpenID, etc.)
    • See also:
  • 22. Semantics can help
    • By using agreed-upon semantic formats to describe people, content objects and the connections that bind them all together , social media sites can interoperate by appealing to common semantics
    • Developers are already using semantic technologies to augment the ways in which they create, reuse, and link profiles and content on social media sites (using FOAF, XFN / hCard, SIOC, etc.)
    • In the other direction, object-centered social networks can serve as rich data sources for semantic applications
  • 23. The Semantic Web for dummies
    • XML customised tags, like:
      • <dog>Nena</dog>
    • + RDF relations, in triples, like:
      • (Nena) (is_dog_of) (Kimiko/Stefan)
    • + Ontologies / hierarchies of concepts, like:
      • mammal -> canine -> Cotton de Tulear -> Nena
    • + Inference rules like:
      • If (person) (owns) (dog), then (person) (cares_for) (dog)
    • = Semantic Web!
    * Sources: Text by Stefan Marti; Picture by Duncan Hull
  • 24. FOAF (Friend-of-a-Friend)
    • FOAF is an ontology for describing people and the relationships that exist between them
    • Can be integrated with any other SW vocabularies
    • Some services with FOAF exports:
    • People can also create their own FOAF document and link to it from their homepage
    • FOAF documents usually contain personal info, links to friends, and other related resources
  • 25. Integrating social networks with FOAF for reuse Common formats, unique URIs * Source: Sheila Kinsella, Applications of Social Network Analysis 2007
  • 26. SIOC (Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities)
    • A schema for representing users, forums, posts and threads, containers, and other items in online community sites, for reuse and interoperability:
      • Aims to fully describe the structure of content in these sites
      • Also to create new connections between forums and posts from different types of discussion systems (blogs, forums, mailing lists, etc.) and content items / containers on Web 2.0 sites
      • And to browse connected posts and channels in interesting ways (e.g. distributed linked conversations, decentralised discussion channels and communities, etc.)
  • 27. Quotes about SIOC
    • “ I […] think the concept is HOT” – Robert Douglass, Drupal Developer
    • “ It just dawned on me that the burgeoning SIOC-o-sphere (online communities exporting and exposing content via SIOC Ontology) is actually: Blogosphere 2.0” – Kingsley Idehen, Founder and CEO of OpenLink Software
    • “ SIOC has the potential to become one of the foundational vocabularies that make Semantic Web applications useful” – Ivan Herman, W3C / ERCIM
    • “ A project that started back in 2000 called Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) represents relationships between people, as well as basic contact details. SIOC does this for groups: it extends the FOAF idea to being able to talk about whole groups of people. I am excited about SIOC because you can use that information to determine trust, to let people in.” – Tim Berners-Lee, Creator of the World Wide Web
  • 28.  
  • 29. The SIOC RDF ontology (important terms)
  • 30. SIOC and other ontologies
  • 31. Using SIOC and FOAF to represent portable data
  • 32.
    • SIOC metadata exporters have been created for open-source / commercial discussion systems and popular Web 2.0 sites:
      • b2evolution, Dotclear, Drupal, phpBB, WordPress, mailing lists, IRC, Twitter, Jaiku, aggregators, OpenLink Data Spaces, Talis Engage, etc.
    • Easy-to-use APIs have been produced for writing your own SIOC applications in PHP, Ruby on Rails and Java
    • As well as nearly 20 academic papers about SIOC and a W3C member submission ( ), easy-to-read documentation and usage examples are available :
    • SIOC aims to infect the Web infrastructure:
      • During next upgrade cycle gigabytes of community data become available!
    Getting traction for SIOC
  • 33. SIOC in use (~50 implementations, applications)
  • 34.
    • We have lots of producers of SIOC data, but now we need to build more applications that can consume it, like this WordPress importer:
      • Just as WordPress can import blog entries from various blogging systems, the SIOC importer can import any discussion posts represented in SIOC (forum posts, mail messages, IRC chats)
  • 35. Porting social media contributions from data providers to import services
  • 36.  
  • 37. Join the DataPortability and SIOC projects!
  • 38. Ownership, control, freedom at