mSpace: web 2.0 meets web 3.0 meets iTunes

Have you ever found the category browsing of iTunes to be a little limited? If so you have to try out mSpace, a Web 2.0 music browser, but also a whole new way of thinking about exploring relational data. Before reading any further just try it out!

So what does that mspace application do? If you have used iTunes and you view it in Browser mode by hitting ⌘B for example, you will have noticed that you are only confronted with three selection panes titled "Genre", "Artist" and "Album". You can't add any more, nor can you re-arrange them. Well the default is good as a default, but if you like to listen to classical music, then you may find that constraining your search by "Artist" is really not quite as interesting as constraining it by "Composer". So really you would like to have three columns "Genre","Composer","Album". This is what mSpace allows you to do. Not only that, but you can add any number of other columns and rearrange these columns any way you want by dragging and dropping them. You can then use this to search the information space the way that makes most sense to you.

As interesting as the UI is the theory behind it. Based on some 4 year old Semantic Web research (see their papers) this recent implementation makes all the points in an instant. For detailed description of the thinking behind this it is worth reading "Applying mSpace Interfaces to the Semantic Web", which gives a Description Logic (which is in short an Object Oriented declarative logical formalism) basis for their work.

A Java version, called jSpace is being implemented by Clark and Parsia. Looks like one just would need to resuscitate the work on jTunes and presto, one could have something a lot more interesting than iTunes, that worked on all platforms. The theory behind this is certainly going to be really useful to help me implement Beatnik.

Digg it.
Comments:

We've been using jSpace to build some apps for NASA, particularly, an expertise location service called POPS. We use jSpace as the end-user tool to browse an RDF aggregation of a few million triples -- converted from 5 or 6 NASA data sources, including X500, databases, payroll, etc.

We're putting up some sample data sets right now so that people can browse them with jSpace and get an idea for what it's like: World Fact Book, some US gov't legislative data (actually, we'll just point jSpace at govtrack.us's SPARQL endpoint for this one), and maybe MusicBrainz, etc.

We're also look at a new round of development soon, including tree and geo column types (columns are just lists presently) and (perhaps) a port to GWT.

jSpace has been under fairly active development for about 8 months, so it's mature enough that we'd be happy for people to start playing with it, etc.

Posted by Kendall Clark on February 13, 2007 at 09:44 AM CET #

its great!

Posted by hunter on September 08, 2007 at 11:30 AM CEST #

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