Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Harpers.org brought to you by the Semantic Web

A New Website for Harper's Magazine "We cut up the Weekly Review into individual events (6000 of them, going back to the year 2000), and tagged them by date, using XML and a bit of programming. We did the same with the Harper's Index, except instead of events, we marked things up as “facts.”

Then we added links inside the events and facts to items in the taxonomy. Magic occured: on the Satan page, for instance, is a list of all the events and facts related to Satan, sorted by time. Where do these facts come from? From the Weekly Review and the Index. On the opposite side, as you read the Weekly Review in its narrative form, all of the links in the site's content take you to timelines. Take a look at a recent Harper's Index and click around a bit—you'll see what I mean.

The best way to think about this is as a remix: the taxonomy is an automated remix of the narrative content on the site, except instead of chopping up a ballad to turn it into house music, we're turning narrative content into an annotated timeline. The content doesn't change, just the way it's presented."

"A small team of Java coders and I are planning to take the work done on Harper's, and in other places like Rhetorical Device, and create an open-sourced content management system based on RDF storage. This will allow much larger content bases (the current system will start to get gimpy at around 30 megs of XML content—fine for Harper's, but not for larger sites), and for different kinds of content to be merged."

I'll have to look at Samizdat. Which "is a generic RDF-based engine for building collaboration and open publishing web sites." Seems to be the way things are heading.
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