I just discovered this Semantic initiative by Markus Krötzsch while reading Danny Ayers.

Wow! What a great initiative – trying to develop and test some Semantic Web ideas and technologies in the mainstream.

What is this Semantic MediaWiki all about?

The WikiProject “Semantic MediaWiki” provides a common platform for discussing extensions of the MediaWiki software that allow for simple, machine-based processing of Wiki content. This usually requires some form of “semantic annotation,” but the special Wiki environment and the multitude of envisaged applications impose a number of additional requirements.

The overall objective of the project is to develop a single solution for semantic annotation that fits the needs of most Wikimedia projects and still meets the Wiki-specific requirements of usability and performance. It is understood that ad hoc implementations (i.e. “hacks”) may sometimes solve single problems, but agreeing on common editing syntax, underlying technology, exchange formats, etc. bears huge advantages for all participants.

You can read the rest to find out what Markus and his team want to do (and not do) with the Semantic MediaWiki initiative.

I didn’t have much time to check its under-the-hood construction because I am overloaded with the development of Talk Digger and another contract I have accepted. However I did want to take the time to write a bit about it and the cool things I found.

The project is really great: they are trying to build a simple and easy to use semantic system, where users would benefit from its power without caring about all the technical stuff. They have well defined goals to guide their vision of this MediaWiki add-on. This Semantic MediaWiki is intended for Mr. and Mrs. anybody, not only academics.

How will semantic web capabilities be received by Internet users? How will they use the capabilities? Will they like the new possibilities it gives them?

These are all open questions that such an initiative will help to answer.

Give it a try

Basically it defines relations between the objects of Wiki articles. These things could be a word, a group of words (referred as value in their documentation) or another article. Read the document to know what the possible relations are, how they work, and how they are defined.

Check out what a Wiki article about San Diego looks like in a Semantic Web environment. The semantic meanings of the main terms are defined directly into the article. These definitions create a RDFS graph that describes the semantic meanings of the article.

Yeah well, what does this change in my life?

There are two possible answers: (1) absolutely nothing, or (2) absolutely everything. Think about it – think about Wikipedia using that add-on in their system, such that people start to define the semantic meanings of its articles.

People would have access to the same content; however now that content would be accessible in a new way: computers would have access to the RDFS graph created with the relations defined by Wikipedia users. So a third party crawler could crawl Wikipedia, then check for this tag in each article:

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rdf+xml” title=”…” href=”…” />

Then the crawler would download and archive the RDFS/SMW document annotated to each article. Eventually a RDFS/(SMW?) reasonner like KAON could do marvel with all that meaningful data!

Finally I would suggest trying the Simple Semantic Search.

I will try to find more time later to check out this Semantic Wiki more in depth and to talk a little bit more about it.

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