Interlinking the social web with semantics

In this project, I will analyze the semantics in twitter feeds and the profile of a user. To gain more insight in the relation between the current semantic web and social web, I searched for some relevant articles. In this post I write a summary of the article by Bojars et al. titled “Interlinking the social web with semantics”.

In this article Bojars et al. discussed one of the most visible trends on the Web. Which is the emergence of Social Web sites, which help people create and gather knowledge by simplifying user contribu- tions via blogs, tagging and folksonomies, wikis, podcasts, and online social networks. They noted that current online-community sites are isolated from one another, like islands in a sea. The main reason for this lack of interoperation is that for the most part in the Social Web, common standards still don’t exist for knowledge and information exchange and interoperation. During the last couple years, much effort has gone into defining standards for data in- terchange and interoperation. The Semantic Web technology stack is well defined, enabling the creation of metadata and associated vocabularies. The Semantic Web effort is in an ideal position to make Social Web sites interoperable. Applying Semantic Web frameworks such as SIOC (Semantically In- terlinked Online Communities) and FOAF (Friend- of-a-Friend) to the Social Web can lead to a Social Semantic Web creating a network of interlinked and semantically rich knowledge.


The SIOC project logo.

Image via Wikipedia


The authors then explained in more detail the SIOC initiative The SIOC initiative aims to enable the integration of online-community information. SIOC (pro- nounced “shock”) provides a Semantic Web ontology for representing rich data from Social Web sites in RDF. By means of various figures they expressed very effectively these ideas. An essential part of SIOC is the ontology. It defines the main concepts and properties required to describe semantic information from online communities. Bojars et al. presented this ontology including the definition of the modules out of which it consists.

They noted that one of the semantic web best practices is the reuse of existing ontologies and vocabularies, leading to better data interoperability. The SIOC ontology follows this practice by reusing the FOAF vocabulary to describe person-centric data and the Dublin Core Vocabulary to describe properties of SIOC content items. SIOC aims at a minimal consensus of a given domain rather than a complete specification.

SIOC gives different online-community sites a common format for expressing their data in a rich, interlinked form. This interconnec- tion of Social Web content using Semantic Web technologies can lead to many interest- ing possibilities on the individual and com- munity level. Taking advantage of the infor- mation represented in SIOC, developers can build various browsers and applications on top of SIOC. Bojars et al. highlighted an important illustration they called the “SIOC food chain”.  It illustrates where SIOC data are being produced, collected, and consumed. According to them this isn’t exhaustive but does cover most available SIOC application types. They then described in more detail the types of SIOC application and some examples.

A noteworthy application is “Object-centered sociality”. It refers to the hypothesis that people are connected through the objects they create and collaborate on. On the Social Web, people are related through user-generated content and annotations.

Bojars et al. also discussed some related initiatives. Such as data portability using SIOC. It is operated by The DataPortability working group and aims to document the best practices for integrating existing open standards and protocols to enable end-to-end data portability between online tools, vendors, and services. Another of its goals is to let users move, share, and control their identity, photos, videos, and all other forms of personal data. SIOC is more that just a way to represent personal data containers. The DataPortability working group and others are exploring methods for porting not just small user-centric data sets but whole sets of community data. Bojars et al. created SIOC to provide a way to describe the content from online commu- nities (mailing lists, message boards, and so on).  They then showed some other examples: “Semantically interlinking Collaborative-work-environments” and “The Bio-Zen initiative – the art of scientific community maintenance”.

Image representing DataPortability as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

The authors concluded with some remarks about the future of their “shock”. Following on from the SIOC ontology’s suc- cessful dissemination and implementation in many modules and applications, they planned to extend their SIOC research by looking at more specific application domains. The SIOC project has a stable ontology and a good foundation of tools using it, but they needed to figure out what the requirements are in particular domains, whether they involve interlinking real-estate communities or extracting personal skills from user-generated content. To develop new solutions and enable inno- vation, networks are necessary—networks of people and organizations having access to networks of knowledge. Although knowledge is inherently strongly interconnected, current information fabrics don’t reflect this interconnectedness, so they’re not optimal for supporting the development of solutions and innovation. The lack of interconnectedness hampers basic information manage- ment and problem-solving capabilities such as finding, creating, and deploying the right knowledge at the right time for problem solving and collaboration.

Bojars et al. Interlinking the Social Web with Semantics.  (2008) pp. 1-12


About laurensdv
Computer Science Student, interested in creating more innovating user experiences for information access. Fond of travelling around Europe!

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