Fluidinfo: Publishing in an Openly Writeable World


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The slides I used during my presentation at Pearson's "From Book to Tablet: How Data is changing publishing" event on 2011/04/13 in London. I've added some notes.

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Fluidinfo: Publishing in an Openly Writeable World

  1. 1. Fluidinfo: Publishing in an Openly Writeable World.Introduction: Given by Nicholas Tollervey (@ntoll) at Pearson’s “From Book to Tablet: HowData is changing publishing” event. 2011/04/13 London.
  2. 2. Fluidinfo is an openly writeable hosted service for storing, sharing, searching and annotating data.While this is accurate, it’s not the whole story... How does it work..?
  3. 3. Objects are tagged with information http://ntoll.org/images/93.jpgIn Fluidinfo, objects represent things (anything). Tags attach/associate data to objects. Tagsare organised with Namespaces (creating meaning, context and *trust*).
  4. 4. https://twitter.com/#!/novaspivack/status/4999653280This is a good example of the sort of thing that Fluidinfo does. But we don’t just do tweets!Objects can represent anything. Anyone can tag any object with information.
  5. 5. Namespaces/tags ntoll/rating terrycojones/rating amazon.com/book/title amazon.com/book/author amazon.com/book/isbn esteve/books/cover timoreilly/has_readTags & namespaces must be defined before they are used. They provide stricture for thedata. Every user starts with their own empty top-level namespace for them to use. (My toplevel namespace is “ntoll”).
  6. 6. Namespaces/tags ntoll/rating terrycojones/rating amazon.com/book/title Trusted amazon.com/book/author domain amazon.com/book/isbn esteve/books/cover Good timoreilly/has_read reputationNamespaces link domains and users to data thus creating trust. Users whose username is adomain name must own the domain in question (so only Amazon can use the namespaceamazon.com).
  7. 7. Namespaces/tags Emerging ntoll/rating behaviour terrycojones/rating amazon.com/book/title amazon.com/book/author amazon.com/book/isbn esteve/books/cover timoreilly/has_readEmergence/evolution trumps ontology or imposed taxonomy! Namespaces and tags allowusers to build a schema from the bottom up. We’re seeing conventions (such as the “rating”tag) emerge.
  8. 8. Permissions apply to namespaces, tags and values. Users retain control of their data. Fluidinfo stays writeable.Anyone can tag any sort of data to any object. However, users define who can read, create &change their namespaces, tags & data. The permission system is also a part of themechanism for creating trust: you know only I (ntoll) can use tags in the “ntoll” namespace.
  9. 9. A concrete example: Let’s look at an object in Fluidinfo that represents a book - we’ve beenworking with O’Reilly media and have their catalogue in Fluidinfo.
  10. 10. Red = Objects, Blue = Namespaces, Grey = Tags.Lots of tags on an openly writeable object. Context adds value.
  11. 11. Most tags have an associated value (in this example we’re looking at the value of oreilly.com/summary - the blurb on the back of the book). But notice ntoll/owns - actually it doesn’thave a value. By virtue of its existence it’s communicating something interesting!
  12. 12. • An object for everything • Openly writeable • No pre-defined schema • Maintain ownership & controlSummary so far...
  13. 13. Fluidinfo is the database with the heart of a wiki Nivi http://venturehacks.com/This is a common reaction and it’s sort of right... :-) A wiki is openly writable just likeFluidinfo...
  14. 14. As Wikipedia is to traditional encyclopaedias so Fluidinfo is to traditional databases.But a wiki doesn’t have permissions to facilitate privacy and ownership, a query language likea database, nor does it provide an instant API for access to your data.
  15. 15. An instant API for data..? A simple way to share and re-use data..? A more finely grained wayto share content (contrast with the monolithic set of documents that is the WWW). Also, withan openly writeable API publishing is a bi-directional activity.
  16. 16. An API is what smart web companies build so that other innovative companies and developers can build tools and services on top of their underlying databases and services. Hugh McGuire http://librivox.org/ http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/09/beyond-ebooks-publisher-as-api.htmlWhy have an API..? Hugh nails it.
  17. 17. We are a long, long way from publishers thinking of themselves as API providers -- as the Application Programming Interface for the books they publish. But weve seen countless times that value grows when data is opened up (sometimes selectively) to the world. Thats really what the Internet is for; and that is where book publishing is going. Eventually. Hugh McGuire http://librivox.org/ http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/09/beyond-ebooks-publisher-as-api.htmlAnd in the context of this evening’s topic: “From Book to Tablet: How Data is changingpublishing”: value is in the content (not the medium), content has moved to the Web (but monolithicHTML). Fluidinfo = a platform making content available in a more controlled & finely grained way.
  18. 18. Some more examples: simply by importing data various organisations and cultural artefacts(e.g. The Bible) now have an API. E.g. Every BoingBoing article has an associated object &there are boingboing.net/* tags attached to these objects.
  19. 19. Fluidinfo’s Query Language • Equality & Inequality: To find objects based on the numeric values or exact textual values, e.g., tim/rating > 5, or geo/name = "Llandefalle". • Textual: To find objects based on text matching their tag values, for example, sally/opinion matches “fantastic”. • Presence: Use has to request objects that have a given tag. For example, has sally/opinion. • Set contents: The contains operator can be used to select objects with a matching value in a set of strings. The query mary/product-reviews/keywords contains "kids" would match the object with a tag called /mary/product- reviews/keywords and value ["cool", "kids", "adventure" ]. • Exclusion: Exclude objects with the except keyword. For example has nytimes.com/appeared except has james/seen. The except operator performs a set difference. • Logic: Query components can be combined with and and or. For example, has sara/rating and tim/rating > 5. • Grouping: Parentheses can be used to group query components. For example, has sara/rating and (tim/rating > 5 or mike/rating > 7).Fluidinfo has a simple yet powerful query language (so simple, it fits on this slide) that can beused to extract data.
  20. 20. SELECT self-catering-cottage FROM WHERE location NEAR pubs SERVING AND pub HAS rating > 7 INIt’s currently NOT possible to create queries like this on the web. Data is stored in walledgardens behind websites. Fluidinfo is different because data is stored in context (i.e. it’stagged to a shared object).
  21. 21. SELECT self-catering-cottage FROM L E WHERE location NEAR pubs SERVING I B S S P O AND pub HAS rating > 7 IN I MBecause everyone’s data is stored in the context of shared objects it means it’s possible tocreate interesting queries using data (for which you have permission to read) from lots ofdifferent sources.
  22. 22. has boingboing.net/mentioned and has readwriteweb.com/mentioned and has unionsquareventures.com/portfolioThis query is an example of Fluidinfo’s query language (notice the simplicity). It’s asking:which USV companies have been mentioned in articles on BoingBoing.net andReadWriteWeb..?
  23. 23. Objects about: http://www.twitter.com http://www.etsy.com http://www.boxee.tv http://www.meetup.comTada! We found four matches relating to four companies. Fluidinfo is currently the *ONLY*place where you can make queries like this!
  24. 24. {uboingboing.net/mentioned:     {uvalue: [uhttp://boingboing.net/2009/11/06/ vampireotherkinenerg.html,                      uhttp://boingboing.net/2010/01/11/ny- times-on-urban-ca.html,                      uhttp://boingboing.net/2010/10/26/ron- paul-supporter-w.html,                      uhttp://boingboing.net/2002/06/27/ meetup-meatspace-cam.html,                      uhttp://boingboing.net/2004/03/17/ wired-rave-awards.html,                      uhttp://boingboing.net/2006/01/05/net- pug-nabbed-by-cr.html]}, ufluiddb/about:     {uvalue: uhttp://www.meetup.com}, ureadwriteweb.com/mentioned:     {uvalue:  [uhttp://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/ meetup_the_secret_campaign_weapon.php]}}We can even ask Fluidinfo to return what those articles were... (the values of the */mentionedtags). Here’s the result for the object about http://www.meetup.com (A Pythonrepresentation of the JSON object Fluidinfo sent down the wire).
  25. 25. object-centred-socialIn conclusion, openly writable objects are tagged with data from lots of different sources.There’s an easy query language to extract information. Our permission model allows users toretain ownership & control of their data and is the mechanism for building trust.
  26. 26. northac kton/m ember terryco jones/m nto et ll/m et ff ntoll northackton per /sta nfo scoble lo i uid eve fl d ntoll/met fom/ fom/ d user taf f esteve gge s widget fo/ blo in le/ flui d co b er s b em flui ceronman din n/m fo/s taff kto nt widget/owns oll fluid c /m tha terr et info/stnor peacelily fluidinfo fom yco fom /de velo aff FOM jon /us p er er es/m te rr et y co FOM jon ff nfo/sta fluidi es aliafshar /m e /me t t ntoll terrycojones r terrycojones/met ve sto timoreilly estor fo/in fluidi nfo/inv uidin fl gfcampbell edyson Everyone’s data sits within a network of annotations...
  27. 27. i flu sc o flui ceronman din Where Google explores the fo/s taff nt digital world as it is, Fluidinfo is oll flu /m idinfo/ more of a distributed intellectual terr et peacelily fluidinfo fom construction tool. Basically, its a new yco /de staffm/ velo jon use per kind of database for open, typed data r es/m without the overhead of the "ontology" et te rr companies, along with a new kind of ff y o/sta co jon es fluidi nf search engine. Its along the lines of aliafsharme t Metaweb but more flexible, with a very /m et terrycojones different model of data ownership, and with more focus on regular r ojones/met iso timoreilly v people as end users. estor /ad nfo/inv nfo di fluidi flui edyson terry cojon es/m et edyson Esther Dyson nivi http://edventure.com/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewtopia/1413191259/ A really good summary to end with.
  28. 28. http://fluidinfo.com/Please feel free to get in touch with me! ntoll @ the obvious place. Also @ntoll on Twitter.