15 million foaf files

Live Journal produces 15 million foaf files Anil Dash told me at the GNoTE conference yesterday.

That's 15 million rdf files ready to be used by a Semantic Address Book. I am thinking of writing one. Just drag and drop a foaf url (like mine) onto such an address book, and presto all the fields would get filled in including images, geo location information, and friends. The advantage over a simple vcard? An address book could poll a foaf file at regular intervals to keep up to date with changes to your friends foaf files: find out if they have started writing any new blogs, started some new projects, changed house or telephone number, moved, married, ... That should be a killer app. It would also be easy to update one's file: a simple ftp or HTTP PUT to a web server, and your friends and business partners would be able to keep in sync with your contact info.


And wait, there's more - since FOAF is smart enough to designate certain properties as owl:inverseFunctional, this means that you could actually have the address book, with a minimal amount of (scalable) inferencing, recognize people who were the same even if dragged and dropped from different applications or FOAF files -- an automatically updating and unifying address book - way cool! -JH p.s. oh yeah, check out the grddl work on turning microformats into Foaf ... could drag lots of other things in as wel...

Posted by Jim Hendler on December 05, 2006 at 03:40 PM CET #

That is pretty cool. In fact, yesterday I was thinking of an application like LinkedIn but distributed. All kinds of cool applications can be written processing FOAF files. Wordpress uses XFN. I wonder whether they use FOAF to store person info.

Posted by Dorai Thodla on December 05, 2006 at 11:30 PM CET #

That should be a killer app
Would Tim Bray also consider it a killer app?

Posted by Catalin Hritcu on December 08, 2006 at 02:57 AM CET #

If anybody is going to do this - building it on top of Mozilla would make most sense, I think.

Posted by Jiri Kopsa on December 10, 2006 at 11:22 PM CET #

If anybody is going to do this - building it on top of Mozilla would make most sense, I think.

It would of course make a lot of sense in Mozilla, but it looks like they want to ditch the rdf engine.

In any case your point ends up coming down to the question whether the browser is going to become the OS of the future or whether the Browser is going to be embedded in the OS. I think there is a third option: the web will be the OS. More specifically: one could have a desktop SPARQL end point that keeps an index of all the metadata of the docs on the hard drive, like spotlight does. But once all the applications start being based on SPARQL it no longer matters where that endpoint is located. (see my longer article here.) So every application becomes a browser of open standards documents.

Posted by Henry Story on December 13, 2006 at 09:26 PM CET #

Sure, I'm also on the "semantic desktop train". I was only suggesting that it makes sense to use a bottom up approach and start building the big thing by adding semantic seasoning to existing applications and connecting small pieces rather then to wait for the holy grail. This is a lesson that I think we all learned: Web 2.0 boomed whereas semantic web does not fly yet. Web 2.0 emerged bottom-up, semantic web was architected top-down. Cheers!

Posted by Jiri Kopsa on December 15, 2006 at 09:39 PM CET #

I was just rereading O'Reilly's classic What Is Web 2.0. A couple of quotes are in order. In section 6 "Software Above the Level of a Single Device" he writes:
But as with many areas of Web 2.0, where the "2.0-ness" is not something new, but rather a fuller realization of the true potential of the web platform, this phrase gives us a key insight into how to design applications and services for the new platform.

To date, iTunes is the best exemplar of this principle. This application seamlessly reaches from the handheld device to a massive web back-end, with the PC acting as a local cache and control station. There have been many previous attempts to bring web content to portable devices, but the iPod/iTunes combination is one of the first such applications designed from the ground up to span multiple devices. TiVo is another good example.

Notice how iTunes is both a browser of your locally stored music and of the remote iTunes music store. It is a browser, but it is not based on Mozilla at all. It is a new form of browser. Interestingly, one page further, in his section "7. Rich User Experiences", O'Reilly even mentions a new form of Address Book
It's easy to see how Web 2.0 will also remake the address book. A Web 2.0-style address book would treat the local address book on the PC or phone merely as a cache of the contacts you've explicitly asked the system to remember. Meanwhile, a web-based synchronization agent, Gmail-style, would remember every message sent or received, every email address and every phone number used, and build social networking heuristics to decide which ones to offer up as alternatives when an answer wasn't found in the local cache. Lacking an answer there, the system would query the broader social network.
Don't get hung up on thinking a Web 2.0 application has to use a web browser.

Posted by Henry Story on December 16, 2006 at 02:23 AM CET #

I agree with everything you said... and didn't mention browser at all ;-)

Posted by Jiri Kopsa on December 18, 2006 at 07:29 PM CET #

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