Human and the Semantic Web
“The Semantic Web is mainly serving machine agents” has been dominating my mind for many years. Now human users may also want to explore the big mass of RDF data not just for debugging purpose. Semantic Web user interaction is becoming an important part of Semantic Web layer cake and research direction (see SWUI workshops) in ISWC.
As a “web of data”, the Semantic Web, boosted by Linked Data efforts, presents web users a maze of RDF graph with billions of arcs (triples). To explore the maze, below are some html browser approaches I came across:
- Hyperlink based RDF browsers, such as hyperdaml, Longwell, OpenLink RDF Browser, tabulator
- Search Engine based browser, such as Swoogle navigation (and a paper behind it), dbpedia
An alternative approach is graphical browser, which seem to be more intuitive to end users. An interesting blog Large-scale RDF Graph Visualization Tools covered a handful of useful resources including something I never encountered and even links to 28 visualization software packages. Of course the list missed some RDF viz browsers such as FOAFnaut, Welkin, and self visualization. It is notable that scalability is still bugging most of the visualization approaches due to the limit of memory size: my last experience was “Otter had a hard time when processing a graph with over 10,000 nodes”.
There are still many user interaction issues beyond the browsers (e.g. search engines, semantic wiki), and a well-designed UI component is probably the key to the Killer-App of the Semantic Web.