Saturday, February 17, 2007

BarCamp Day 1 - Morning Sessions

We met in the plush surroundings of BT's offices in St. Paul's. They have some fantastic facilities and it was great to be able to make use of them for the weekend.

[hi-tech ramp down to the main auditorium]

The Three Musketeers - Ian, Nat and Jason - set the ball rolling with a few words and generally explained what was going on, and how the format of the weekend would run. Then we were all encouraged to say a few brief words about ourselves as an icebreaker, by passing the mic round the auditorium. I thought this was a great idea as you could note down someone's name if you had similar interests, and seek them out later.

[the fun begins with the Three Museketeers introducing themselves]

Ian Forrester on Pipelines
Ian was explaining what Pipelines were about, basically inputting a stream of data (can be rss but also other formats), transforming via XSLT to give an output such as HTML. Several online applications currently let you do these sorts of mashups, eg BlogWaves 1.0 is a GUI application with which you can do transforms. Also, does a similar thing. Ian was disappointed that none of them seem to allow you to include information from your own desktop in the aggregation, which might also be useful. - is a "glorified rss reader" plus extras. Allows you to set alerts as popup for desktop, or as an rss feed (via pebbles). Preloadr passes pictures through Flickr and out to Moo. All have APIs and so the pipeline can be automated right through, end to end, without the user having to intervene manually. Here's Ian strutting his stuff:

[Ian talks about pipelines in the main auditorium]

Tom Morris on The Semantic Web
Tom's talk was a tad too technical for a bear of very little brain like me. He started by saying that tagging data isn't a very scaleable thing to do. RDF is a more complex way of tagging stuff. It can have the same design model as relational databases. And gives us a way to represent something like the relationship: Pants = Trousers - users of both terms are now able to understand each other. [It's helped now I've looked up the definition of ontology!]

eRDF is embeddable - ids, titles, attributes etc. It can be parsed with XSLT if your page is XHTML. RDFa is the next thing coming along with XHTML2.0

GRDDL (griddle), Protégé, SparQL are tools to help you do this stuff easily. SparQL lets you bypass APIs which would otherwise require all methods to have been published as an API.

[Tom talks triples]

After all that brain-bending stuff, it was lunchtime! Thank goodness.

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