Semantic Bar Camp London and Flue

Last Saturday early early morning I took the train to London to go to the weekend Semantic Bar Camp that was held at Imperial College, in the computer science department I studied in. I arrived, late, because I had missed the train in Paris by one minute, and so missed getting an overview of the event. On arrival I was asked to put my name down for a presentation and stick the paper on the board on the first empty slot available. 15 minutes later I improvised a talk on Linked Data. I did not realize that there were a lot of microformats people in the audience with little semantic web experience, so I did not take care enough to lay some important foundations, and show how microformats information should be able to work well with information in an RDF database [1]. I demonstrated the Beatnik Address Book and gave an overview of why this was now filling a really important gap, enabling distributed social networks, a topic on which I have written a lot recently. It inspired Dan Brickley who has been working on SPARQL over XMPP to give me some code and show how this could be integrated into Beatnik... It seems pretty easy to do. What would the use case be though...

There were a number of very interesting talks over the weekend. Daniel Lewis collected a few of the blogs covering the event. Ian Davis presented the work he has been leading on Open Data Licences (pic). Yves Raimond and his team presented some interesting work on semantics and music and an advanced inferencing engine based on SWI Prolog called Henry (picture). Tom Shelley from the Economist got us all asking questions on the pros and cons of personal knowledge in a short presentation (picture). The more information is known on us the better services can be offered, but also what are the risks? Is this not a reason one may end up needing agent technology: ie one may prefer programs to move rather than data to move? Georgi Kobilarov gave a nice overview of the very useful Linked Data project DBPedia (picture)...

All during the weekend I felt very tired which I put down for a while to the trip from Paris. On Monday morning as my condition had gotten much worse it became clear that that I had caught a virus. For two days I could hardly get out of bed, struck by a vicious flue, which has only just left me today. On Friday I was too tired to do any thinking work, so I went to see the Du Champ, Man Ray and Picabia exhibition at the Tate Modern, where you can see Du Champ's irreverent rendition of the Mona Lisa - below the picture are written the letters "L.H.O.O.Q" which if pronounced speedily enough sounds like "Elle a chaud au cul".


  1. All I need is some XSLT or Xquery transform to turn microformatted html into RDF (any well known format will do). Mind you, at a later microformat talks it turns out that this may not be quite so easy, as it seems that that the microformat community has not yet agreed on a clear grammar...


The talk I gave is now available online as "Building Secure, Open and Distributed Social Network Applications".


Hi Henry,

The guy from The Economist is Tom Shelley ( LinkedIn: ).

Sorry to hear that you got the flu, I had a virus after the event too.

Many thanks,


Posted by Daniel Lewis on February 25, 2008 at 06:55 AM CET #

Thanks for the pointer Daniel. I fixed the original now.
Hope you got over your flue.


Posted by Henry Story on February 25, 2008 at 09:26 AM CET #

Apologies if this does not synchronize with the article above. I stumbled upon an article of yours from December 2006:

and wondered how far you've pursued the RDF drag/drop idea.

I've written an interactive digraph editor ( ) with a social networking wrapper. Your blog reminded me that the original inspiration for doing this was RDF! Forgotten in the minutiae of getting a robust application up.

Have you found your platform? This one has infrastructure, the next step is a drag and drop interface...and foaf-ability?

By the way, I perused some of your other articles...we share an interest in the Tao Te Ching, my favorite book. A lot of the excellent Stephen Mitchell translation is available at .

Finally, I enjoyed your post on Sao Paulo. I've made two trips to Brazil, going through Sao Paulo both times en route to Brasilia, most recently this August. Wonderful vibe there. I was curious if your brother stayed in Brazil or brought his wife to Europe.


Posted by ron newman on February 26, 2008 at 01:49 PM CET #

Hi Ron,

The drag and drop has been implemented in two simple pieces of open source software:
- A Doap Bean plugin for NetBeans
- The Beatnik Address Book also available here:
(it requires some java compilation experience)

The idea is simple and very powerful. It is the key reason why RESTful web services and RDF are two key and inseparable components.

Posted by Henry Story on February 26, 2008 at 02:04 PM CET #

Hey Henry, have you looked at the GRDDL spec?

It's got a large number of test cases and a library of xslt

Posted by Daniel O'Connor on February 26, 2008 at 06:00 PM CET #

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