Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Semantic desktop paves the way for the semantic web

02.12.2008
European researchers have developed innovative software to make finding information on your computer and sharing it with others considerably easier. In the process, they may have solved the chicken and egg problem that has held back development of the semantic web.

Annotating information with semantic data so that its meaning is understood by machines as well as humans has been heralded as the next evolution of the internet – giving more meaningful structure to the jumbled and disjointed results of web searches.

However, the vision of the semantic web has largely failed to materialise because there is little incentive to create semantic content when there are few services that use it. And there are few services that use it because there is so little semantic content.

Rather than getting stuck in this vicious circle, the researchers behind the Nepomuk project sought to bring semantic information closer to the user, focusing not on how it could be used on the web but on how it can help people find and structure information on their personal computers and share it with others in a network. The result is what the Nepomuk team calls a ‘social semantic desktop’ and it could be the key stepping stone to realising the vision of the semantic web.

“In making data and connections between data easy to find and identify, the semantic desktop gives people a very personal motivation to start annotating their information. The next logical step is for that information to be shared, and you therefore have a starting point for the semantic web,” explains Ansgar Bernardi, the coordinator of the EU-funded Nepomuk.

Giving meaning to information

Nepomuk’s desktop solution offers plenty of incentives for people to get to grips with semantic information. By giving meaning to documents, contact details, pictures, videos and all manner of other data stored on a user’s computer, regardless of file format, application or language, the semantic desktop makes it easier and faster to retrieve information and to identify connections between different information items.

“For example, I was taking notes at a summer school we recently held in Malta and I was writing the information into a wiki application on my computer. With Nepomuk installed, each time I mentioned a speaker’s name I was given the opportunity to link to contact details and other data about that person I already had stored on the computer,” Bernardi, a researcher at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), explains.

The need to identify connections between a person and information and between different people was one of the key inspirations of the project.

"The idea of building a semantic desktop arose from the fact that one of our colleagues could not keep track of the girlfriends of his friends because they kept changing," Bernardi says. “Social networking sites such as Facebook only go half way towards solving the problem because they do not provide an actual assessment of relations between people based on all the information available to you and your interpretation of it… Much of that information is hidden on your computer in files, emails, contact books, pictures, in the names and structures of your folders. Nepomuk provides a more efficient way of managing that information."

When information is added, the Nepomuk software, which consists of independent applications and plug-ins for third-party programs, prompts users to annotate it so that it can be correctly situated in what Bernardi describes as their “personal information view of the world.”

What’s more, when the Nepomuk software is installed it crawls the user’s computer in search of information and then begins to establish connections between different information items.

Users can decide what information to share with others by setting access permissions for individual information elements. Using a peer-to-peer architecture or a direct connection, the Nepomuk software then establishes semantic connections between data stored on different users’ computers, creating a semantic network that is only one step away from the vision of the semantic web.

The benefits of the technology are being highlighted in four case studies.

At the Institut Pasteur in Paris, the software is being used to create an electronic lab book to help researchers document experiments in the bio-science laboratory and link references to the original sources.

At software developer SAP, it is being used as a task management solution, allowing developers to collectively organise their time.

At TMI group, it is being used to network the organisation’s consultancies in different European countries, helping one consultant use the experiences of others to provide solutions for clients.

And at Mandriva, a project partner and distributor of the Linux open source operating system, the software is being used to power its knowledge base.

Open source interest and commercial applications

The Nepomuk project, which is due to end in December, has already elicited widespread interest from the open source development community. New applications and software plug-ins are being worked on by developers outside of the project consortium. These allow Nepomuk to function with third-party programs, such as the Firefox open source web browser and email readers, such as Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook.

Nepomuk’s semantic annotating and tagging system has been incorporated into the K Desktop Environment 4 (KDE) that is distributed with some versions of Linux, while a pure Java implementation, based on the Eclipse platform, is also published by the consortium.

One spin-off company from coordinating partner DFKI is in the process of being established, and Bernardi says others may follow.

In the meantime, the consortium plans to establish the Open Semantic Collaboration Architecture Foundation to support the Nepomuk results after the project ends. They are actively seeking industrial and academic partners to help in that goal, offering them, in exchange, the chance to participate in what could be the key software breakthrough that turns the semantic web from a vision into reality.

Nepomuk received funding from the ICT strand of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90221

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht CiViQ brings quantum technologies to the telecommunications arena
21.11.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

nachricht Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize
19.11.2018 | University of Tokyo

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

Exoplanet stepping stones

21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>