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Bringing Linked Data to Drupal; bringing the Semantic Web to the World

Based on my comment to <http://buytaert.net/drupal-the-semantic-web-and-search">Dries Buyteart's Drupal, the semantic web and search, which ended with "I can has semweb in Drupal core?"

Yes, we can!

First, congratulations for having it in drop. Now the world is catching up, it is time to put RDF back in Drupal core.

Second, here's the threads on the w3 mailing list that David Peterson started on the W3C RDF in XHTML mailing list for how to help Drupal implement useful FOAF and SIOC vocabularies as RDFa and continuing into October.

Third, scientists are very interested in RDF and Drupal, as evidenced at the Taxonomy code sprint sponsored by Encyclopedia Of Life. The science angle is where we're working now, for other people, but Agaric would have walked away from this job (even though we love our client) if we thought many hours of Semantic Web work wouldn't benefit anyone else. So this is very, very gratifying.

Fourth, Kingsley Idehen of OpenLink Software converted Drupal's database schema to RDF a year and a half ago, and could make a very good starting point.

Fifth, The Semantic Web group on groups.drupal.org, and in particular the Drupal RDF Schema proposal post, is already off to a good start, too.

Just for fun: In addition to talking about putting RDF in Drupal, here's what Drupal looks like described in RDF, which may help to show what kind of structure can be given to content (not that it would look like this, but this is what computers could see).

The Semantic Web was always something that I thought was a good idea, but figured someone else would do it (and I intend to help bring democratic mass communication to the world, so modest goals isn't one of my qualities). So this is pretty recent understanding I'm going to try to share, to restate what the Semantic Web is all about: it's a web of meaning, allowing computers to easily know things about content and it's relationships where right now it just knows there's a document.

Because with FOAF and SIOC and others we're talking about the ultimate of open standards, the data won't be limited to use just by Google, Yahoo, Amazon, or Microsoft. So it's not just products and services that can have all this data exposed and super-intelligently searchable and filterable, but things we want to share for free and collaborate on also. Once the infrastructure is there, sharing data (rather than "just HTML") can be essentially free.

It hasn't happened yet, and that makes even people who have long been working on semantic web projects a bit nervous. "The web worked and took off because it was simple," more than one such person has in effect said to me. "Any kid could put together an HTML page. RDF is not... easy."

Is the answer obvious to everyone yet?

Linked data may not be the driver of much adoption of Drupal, not right away. Instead, it will be (another) gift from Drupal to the world: another building block of the Semantic Web that makes it real, that makes its uses and users legion. And like the Web itself, the Semantic Web benefits from network effects: the more people involved, the greater the value of the whole network to everyone.

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