Jul 31 2010
Jul 31

Tonight a tweet from Laura Scott lead me to a blogpost by Zack Rosen at Semantic Focus. From the first sentence it seemed a bit odd, it's been more than 12 years since Tim Berners-Lee started working on the Semantic Web and most if not all of the points that followed seemed outdated. Only at the end of the article in the comments it then turned out that this was actually an article from 2006 (later a notice was added).

Anyway, the article made me think about all the ways that Drupal is making the Semantic Web so much more attainable today.

  • Most important of all perhaps is that Drupal is going to make a big dent into the RDF chicken and egg problem: Drupal 7 will come by default with RDFa marked-up output.
  • For most people that start building a new site with Drupal 7, the improved search engine results will more than weigh up against any benefits they could have from keeping their data in a walled garden. They won't experience Business barriers.
  • Drupal and all the RDF themed contributed modules will as more of them are maturing, slowly but surely remove any technical barriers that people might have using semantic web technologies.

One point Zack made however, is 4 years later still very relevant: it would be great to see more researchers join the Drupal developer community. Whenever researchers have joined our community, it often has had a great impact on the project. Just look at the contributions to Semantic Drupal that 2 master thesis students from DERI Galway made: Stéphane Corlosquet was a major driving force behind the implementation of RDFa in Drupal 7 core and now his colleague Lin Clark is going to put SPARQL queries into the hands of mere mortals with her Views plugin, SPARQL Views.

Imagine what would happen if even more academics start encouraging their students to do a Drupal community project…

With Pronovix we've initiated and are still co-organizing a Drupal introductory and advanced course at Szeged University. It's also been a great learning experience for me to mentor master thesis students that do Drupal projects. Maybe there is a university you are in contact with where you could do the same?

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