SWIG-Uk Special Event: Alberto Reggiori & Andrea Marchesini – The BBC Content Aggregator for the Memoryshare Service

Alberto and Andrea presented some of the work they have been at Asemantics. Most notably they showed how they are using Semantic Web technologies on a developing a new generation of feed aggregators for the BBC’ MemoryShare service which is described as an archive of memories and events from around 1900 to today.

One of the key messages that Alberto tried to convey was around the adoption of RDF and the difficulties around trying to use it solve the various problems that are faced by the SemWeb community. In his opinion  RDF is …

  • Complex, because it tries to solve too many problems at once
  • Search is hard
  • Granularity management, Read/Write is hard
  • We currently have a poor software tool chain

He argues that the solution is to combine existing Web 2.0 technologies with RDF, and actually hide RDF, and instead present data in formats that are more widely accepted and entrenched, because customers don’t get The Semantic Web or RDF. I think Alberto got the biggest laugh of the day when he likened the adoption of RDF to the Resurrection and summarily pronounced on one slide that “RDF is Dead” only to have it resurrected three days later!

One of the things that Alberto and Andrea presented was some current work they are doing on an specifying and developing SPARQL to Objects (S2O) which a SPARQL Extension that maps RDF Graphs to JSON Objects. Whilst the output format seems pretty friendly I’m not convinced I like how it binds the semantic of the output to the semantics of the query – but guess there are some advantages to this approach.

I enjoyed Alberto’s talk and was able to spend a bit of time chatting to him during one of the breaks, he’s a passionate researcher with some interesting ideas. He recently did a podcast with my colleague Paul Miller as part of our Talking with Talis series, which you can listen to here.