Relationships Matter - What's Important on, in, and to the Web
by Micah Herstand, Web Developer, Research Assistant at Washington University in St. Louis on Dec 13, 2010
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Featured in : Technology
From Ignite Galway ...
From Ignite Galway
Slide 1: Today, I’m going to talk about why relationships matter on, in, and to the web. What each of these distinctions mean, and how to define relationships in each of these contexts. Let’s look at a little history to understand what the web is...
Slide 2/3: In the beginning, networks connected computers by a single series of wires. Then someone said, ’hey, it’s not the wires that are interesting, but the computers’ so the Internet was born which lets you connect to any computer without worrying about the wires in between. But then someone said, ’hey, it’s not the computers that are interesting, but the documents’, so the web was born. And the web let you ignore what computer hosted the documents. But then, someone said, ’hey it’s not the documents that are interesting but the information within those documents’, so the Semantic Web was born.
Slide 4: So the Semantic Web looks to make an interface in the web. Instead of connecting you to individual webpages, it tries to mesh these all together and give you just the people, events, or things talked about. But how to do this?
Slide 5: The consensus seems to be to build a network of linked data within the web. So, on the web, Google may link to the 091 Labs’ home page. In Linked Data, 091Labs the *organization*, may be linked to the Open Data Hackathon *event*.
Slide 6: But we hit a problem, because what’s really important is to know how the organization is linked to the event. Not just that it’s linked. Were they hosting it? Or just attending it? Sponsoring it? Or live blogging it? Each of these relationships adds meaning and value to the link between the two entities.
Slide 7: This may hit a bit closer to home if we look at Ireland and the Financial Bailout. Linking them together means little unless we know: did Ireland Accept it? Or boycott it? Was Ireland saved by it? Or ruined by it?
Slide 8: Really what this comes down to is that happiness is a journey, not a destination. It’s the relationships, or journeys that add meaning and value. But unfortunately, right now, the web is just a series of destinations.
Slide 9: Take the act of reading a news article. You may see links, but you’re not told why you should click them. What’s the relationship between the links and the connected pages? Is it evidence for the text’s claim? Or commentary? Or just a list of related articles?
Slide 10: Even worse, what if the link takes you somewhere you really didn’t want to go? Like pornography at work? Or a virus? Or even just as mundane as giving you a list of related articles when you hoped to see the homepage of the organization mentioned?
Slide 11: In the real world, it’s clear what the relationship or journey is between our destinations. If you leave Ireland and go to China, you have to get in a taxi, drive to the airport, go on a plane, and look out the window for 12 hours. That’s tangible.
Slide 12: So how do we build meaningful links on the web? Twitter’s answer is through APIs and partnerships. When you hover over a bit.ly link, they show you the name of the actual domain. On Google, you can hover over a result and see a cached version of the full webpage.
Slide 13: But we don’t always just want to have the destination brought closer. If a protestor and AIB are both talking about the prime minister, it’s not enough to bring the prime minister closer to the conversation, you want to know why they’re talking about him.
Slide 14: In the united states, we seem to have this tradition of referring to our presidents as hitler. So if the guy on the top is talking about hitler, and the lady at the bottom is talking about hitler, it’s important to know the context with which they’re referring to the same guy.
Slide 15: But contexts can also be shared. In this case, we can use the context weather as a tool to connect many seemingly disparate things. In
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