Posts Tagged ‘semantica’

Riusciremmo un giorno a realizzare la vision di TBL?

The entertainment system was belting out the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” when the phone rang. When Pete answered, his phone turned the sound down by sending a message to all the other local devices that had a volume control. His sister, Lucy, was on the line from the doctor’s office: “Mom needs to see a specialist and then has to have a series of physical therapy sessions. Biweekly or something. I’m going to have my agent set up the appointments.” Pete immediately agreed to share the chauffeuring. At the doctor’s office, Lucy instructed her Semantic Web agent through her handheld Web browser. The agent promptly retrieved information about Mom’s prescribed treatment from the doctor’s agent, looked up several lists of providers, and checked for the ones in-plan for Mom’s insurance  within a 20-mile radius of her home and with a rating of excellent or very good on trusted rating services. It then began trying to find a match between available appointment times (supplied by the agents of individual providers through their Web sites) and Pete’s and Lucy’s busy schedules. (The emphasized keywords indicate terms whose semantics, or meaning, were defined for the agent through the
Semantic Web.)

In a few minutes the agent presented them with a plan. Pete didn’t like it—University Hospital was all the way across town from Mom’s place, and he’d be driving back in the middle of rush hour. He set his own agent to redo the search with stricter preferences about location and time. Lucy’s agent, having complete trust in Pete’s agent in the context of the present task, automatically assisted by supplying access certificates and shortcuts to the data it had already sorted through.

Almost instantly the new plan was presented: a much closer clinic and earlier times—but there were two warning notes. First, Pete would have to reschedule a couple of his less important appointments. He checked what they were—not a problem. The other was something about the insurance company’s list failing to include this provider under physical therapists: “Service type and insurance plan status securely verified by other means,”the agent reassured him. “(Details?)”

Lucy registered her assent at about the same moment Pete was muttering, “Spare me the details,” and it was all set. (Of course, Pete couldn’t resist the details and later that night had his agent explain how it had found that provider even though it wasn’t on the proper list.)

(dall’articolo The Semantic Web, Scientific American, 2001 (PDF))

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Bangarang 2.0

Bangarang 2.0

Spesso mi si chiede qual è il bello del desktop semantico: ad esempio, se installate Bangarang 2.0 ed avete già fatto registrare a Strigi le vostre directory contenenti la libreria musicale, alla prima apertura vi ritroverete tutti i vostri artisti ed album già registrati, pronti per essere eseguiti!

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I am not here to talk about the little semantic browser thing, which I know all of you are expecting (and I promise a first test version of the app in the next few days, Christmas holidays should help in giving me some time to prepare it right); I’m here to discuss some impressions on the Microsoft Semantic Engine presentation.

Yes, I said “Microsoft”, and I’d like to survive to that phrase, and no, I did not change to the dark side of computer science; it happened that, a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the sessions of this year’s Professional Developers Conference, when I found this one, about a so-called “Microsoft Semantic Engine”: as a semantic maniac, I had to download the video and see what the “enemy” is preparing in this field, especially because I think that KDE is the first desktop environment to introduce semantics for its apps, and if a new player is coming into the field, then it’s good to see what he is doing. So, finally today I found some time to take a look at it, and here are some impressions.

In general

It looks like a technology introduced especially for business users, which is a good place to start: if the semantic desktop works (and here I’m talking about Nepomuk itself: Microsoft never used the term “semantic desktop”), it could really help Linux itself in becoming a business player heavier than how it is now.

For evidencing even more the business aspect, they built their engine on a relational database, which is pretty shocking IMHO: yes, in this way you can integrate with data warehouses, but the underlying code is a hell if you do not use any of the semantic languages/engines/technologies and their facilities (RDF(S), OWL, Jena, Virtuoso, Pellet). Triples, anyone?


This engine also uses clustering and data mining techniques, together with (un)supervised learning algorithms, to deal with all the metadata that various crawlers pick up from documents (more on this later), and this reminded me of a discussion we had in Freiburg, about clustering for obtaining meaningful facets and terms for the semantic browser: for now, that prototype application will work with just three facets, but when that number will grow, things will surely become interesting…

File crawler

The crawling part is quite straightforward: each document is analyzed many times, at different levels, for getting keywords or other meaningful informations; there is an OCR part for images, as Scribo does, and a really interesting audio analyzer, which tries to extract also the tempo and the key from the music (if it is a music audio file, of course), and that’s really interesting from a technical point of view, at least for a musician like me.


In the end it has been an interesting video, with some really interesting informations on how other software vendors are dealing with the semantic technologies; I think we (as KDE) have a great advantage on these “competitors” in this field, and we need to keep up the good work and integrate Nepomuk more and more into all the applications: the future is coming, and we are right on the bleeding edge.

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Brevemente, per esprimere la soddisfazione dovuta al fatto che ora, sorvolando su un po’ di lavoro interno dovuto alle policy di kdelibs, Nepomuk sta diventando una dipendenza obbligatoria (quantomeno de facto) sia di kdebase che di kdepim, ed è un’ottima notizia per la diffusione del desktop semantico (con buona pace degli ultraconservatori anti-sfruttamento delle risorse del computer).

Insomma: se volevate far girare KDE 4.4 su un Pentium 2 con un quartino di RAM, lasciate perdere… 🙂

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Brevemente (dato che sono a lezione), giro ai lettori una “chiamata alle armi” per il desktop semantico di KDE, tema che mi sta molto a cuore, più che altro perchè ritengo la semantica il futuro dell’informatica (banalmente…), sia in ambito desktop che in ambito Web.

Insomma, come scritto qui, se siete curiosi o interessati alla semantica, se avete un po’ di tempo da spendere per interessarvi a tecnologie decisamente eccitanti (e con possibili sbocchi accademici, se vi interessa ci sono fior fior di ricercatori che se ne occupano), fate un giro su nepomuk.kde.org, curiosate ed iscrivetevi alla mailing list ufficiale.

Non è un compito semplice, e non sempre è tutto facilmente comprensibile, ma vi assicuro che è indubbiamente tutto molto divertente!

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