Too much information and too little
         architecture?
- transforming semantic web ideas to IA

   Svein Ølnes and Nil...
Naming things!

     Gary Larson’s famous cartoon showing a man
     painting names on the dog, the cat, the house in
    ...
Content
  •   Background

  •   The problem

  •   Three layer architecture

  •   The middle layer: semantic structure (o...
Background projects
 1. The development of a new portal for a local municipality
     • a typical web development project
...
Municipality prototype: Good interface, but...
                  Information                            Persons
          ...
... no description of the underlying structure ...
 •   Non-existing or too weak model of the semantic structure
      • m...
... creates problems for the users
Users have problems finding relevant information:

•   Internal search is where the web...
Content Management Systems
Most CMS’s:
• have poor support for semantic structures

•   do not distinguish between differe...
Three layer architecture
   Standard systems        Optimal solution
   - only data resources   - both semantic
   exchang...
The middle layer: semantic structure (ontology)
     The ontology spectrum: From weak to strong semantics
        (Daconta...
An intermediate solution
 From no semantic structure to weak semantic structure:

 •   Use a semantic structure to categor...
Optimal solution
   Stronger semantic structures/ontologies:

   •   Building the middle layer on standards
        • sema...
Middle layer modelled with Topic Maps




3 topic types/classes:
                 person, project and publication
3 associ...
Middle layer modelled with Topic Maps




3 topic types/classes:
                 person, project and publication
3 associ...
Prototyping ”Research institute”
                    Top
                    Menu
                                Project
...
A Topic Maps based portal
Other portals based on semantic web




 Official Norwegian governmental portal Fuzzzy.com – web 2.0/tagging




Norwegian...
Example of search: with semantic structure
Example of search: no structure
Conclusion
   •   Information architects need to model stronger semantic structures

   •   Every web project/IA project m...
End of presentation

                Thanks!

            Contact information

        Svein Ølnes – sol@vestforsk.no
    ...
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Transforming Semantic Web Ideas to Information Architecture

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How IA can benefit from more use of semantic web ideas in order to build a better structure on web sites

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Transforming Semantic Web Ideas to Information Architecture

  1. 1. Too much information and too little architecture? - transforming semantic web ideas to IA Svein Ølnes and Nils Arne Hove Western Norway Research Institute
  2. 2. Naming things! Gary Larson’s famous cartoon showing a man painting names on the dog, the cat, the house in order to ”clear up a few things”. The drawing points to the essential naming of things when talking about semantic structures
  3. 3. Content • Background • The problem • Three layer architecture • The middle layer: semantic structure (ontology) • An intermediate solution: simple categorisations • The optimal solution: stronger semantics • A semantic structure modelled with Topic Maps • Search and semantic structure • Conclusion
  4. 4. Background projects 1. The development of a new portal for a local municipality • a typical web development project • cooperation with information architects • semantic structures developed in parallel with interface prototypes • a CMS provider to implement the prototypes • the CMS not able to support the semantic structures 2. The development of a new web site for our own research institute • semantic structure first, as the start of the work with an information architecture • implementation in a CMS supporting semantic structures
  5. 5. Municipality prototype: Good interface, but... Information Persons about the related to the service service FAQ Links related to the related to the service service Menu related to the service Institutions related to the service
  6. 6. ... no description of the underlying structure ... • Non-existing or too weak model of the semantic structure • many IA projects underestimate the work with a proper semantic structure (= an ontology) • general lack of knowledge in this area • the customer is not willing to pay for the extra effort, he/she wants to see prototypes at an early stage • The semantic structure is often not properly implemented • most CMS’s today lack proper support for implementing semantic structures • the implementation is often left to the CMS provider and the customer
  7. 7. ... creates problems for the users Users have problems finding relevant information: • Internal search is where the web sites often fall apart • Internal search on web sites does not provide relevant results • the search engine does not have enough information about the results it presents (it does not know whether it is a person, a service, a news article etc.) • This problem is often solved isolated from the main problem which is a lack of proper semantic structure • to improve search results supplementary structures are often coded in the search application, or “hard coding” is used to overrule the automatic search result • Weak semantics makes relationship between information elements obscure • relations must be given a description other than ”see also” or ”related article”, and the description must be obtained from the structure
  8. 8. Content Management Systems Most CMS’s: • have poor support for semantic structures • do not distinguish between different kinds of articles: • all articles are treated as news and look like news • ”when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” • do not handle different types of relations • the only type of relations are ”related article”, “see also” • any other type of relation must be provided by “hard-coding” • articles often based on the same style sheet (= same attributes on all articles) • everything is tied to the menu • menu structure = site architecture • the menu is “misused” to also handle relations between articles
  9. 9. Three layer architecture Standard systems Optimal solution - only data resources - both semantic exchangeable structure and data resources exchangeable Portal interface Portal interface including menu Menu Semantic structure structure Data Data resources resources
  10. 10. The middle layer: semantic structure (ontology) The ontology spectrum: From weak to strong semantics (Daconta et al.: “The Semantic Web”) 1. Vocabulary • plain text documents/HTML pages – almost no semantic structure 2. Controlled vocabularies (weak semantic structure) • adding metadata to the information 3. Taxonomies • metadata and hierarchy 4. Thesauri • metadata, hierarchy and a limited set of relations (BT, NT, related to ...) 5. Stronger semantic structures/ontologies • metadata, [hierarchy], any relations Most semantic structure is presently implemented in the portal application and thus not directly available
  11. 11. An intermediate solution From no semantic structure to weak semantic structure: • Use a semantic structure to categorise articles (= “naming things!”) • this article is about ‘persons’ (e.g. article type = ‘person’) • this article is about ‘projects’ etc. • Make the internal search “aware” of the semantic structure • this is where most of the benefit appears • But, • still no description of relations • a solution that does not scale very well
  12. 12. Optimal solution Stronger semantic structures/ontologies: • Building the middle layer on standards • semantic web standards: • Topic Maps (ISO 13250) • RDF/OWL (W3C recommendation) • This will give a more flexible solution • enables exchange of information • reuse of both information and structure • enables inferencing on the information • Enables both categorisation of articles and description of associations between different categories of articles
  13. 13. Middle layer modelled with Topic Maps 3 topic types/classes: person, project and publication 3 association types/relations: project manager, resulted in, and author of
  14. 14. Middle layer modelled with Topic Maps 3 topic types/classes: person, project and publication 3 association types/relations: project manager, resulted in/result of, and author of
  15. 15. Prototyping ”Research institute” Top Menu Project R manager e Project l participants a Project t Publications i o Keywords n s Funding
  16. 16. A Topic Maps based portal
  17. 17. Other portals based on semantic web Official Norwegian governmental portal Fuzzzy.com – web 2.0/tagging Norwegian Broadcast Company – The municipality of Bergen, Norway’s a W3C Semantic Web Use Case second largest city
  18. 18. Example of search: with semantic structure
  19. 19. Example of search: no structure
  20. 20. Conclusion • Information architects need to model stronger semantic structures • Every web project/IA project must start with the construction of an ontology • Information architects must ensure that the semantic structure is implemented in the CMS in a proper way
  21. 21. End of presentation Thanks! Contact information Svein Ølnes – sol@vestforsk.no Nils Arne Hove – nah@vestforsk.no

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