[foaf-protocols] [foaf-dev] revisiting FOAF project goals

Kingsley Idehen kidehen at openlinksw.com
Sun Jun 21 20:16:50 CEST 2009

Hailton Sales wrote:
>> 1) FOAF+SSL [1] which piggy backs off SSL, to allow a client prove
>> that they own a profile
>> 2) OpenID ("Your global identifier throughout the web isn't
>> "happygirl234324" or an email address, or
>> "bradfitz at identityserver.com", but your FOAF URL" -- Brad Fitzpatrick
>> [2] )
> I totally agree to that, I would just use "FOAF URI" instead of "FOAF
> URL" and make an emphatic use of the "buzzword".

Yes, it is "URI", but we need to harmonize language within the community 
so that terminology is consistent when speaking outwards.

Thus, I would suggest:

1. Web ID or WebID - a HTTP URI that identifies a Person Entity that is 
typically the primary topic of a personal profile document
2. Personal FOAF profile document URL - a HTTP URI that identifies the 
location of a document that holds personal profile metadata (an RDF 
document that describes a Person Entity).

btw - I don't grok Brad's use of FOAF URL, and I don't think he should 
be quoted since his statements are actually inaccurate :-(

> On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 7:50 AM, Melvin
> Carvalho<melvincarvalho at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Dan Brickley<danbri at danbri.org> wrote:
>>> I haven't explicitly written about goals for this project since 2000,
>>> when we called it RDFWeb (and before that RDFWebRing).
>>> That original document is here,
>>> http://www.foaf-project.org/original-intro (with one major change, I put
>>> the new name everywhere that it used to say RDFWeb).
>>> Here's what the project website said about goals in mid 2000:
>>> """Goals
>>> We want a better way of keeping track of the scattered fragments of data
>>> currently represented in the Web.
>>> We want to be able to find documents in the Web based on their
>>> properties and inter-relationships; we want to be able to find
>>> information about people based on their publications, employment
>>> details, group membership and declared interests. We want to be able to
>>> share annotations, ratings, bookmarks and arbitrary useful data
>>> fragments using some common infrastructure. We want a Web search system
>>> that's more like a database and less like a lucky dip. We need it to be
>>> be distributed, decentralised, and content-neutral.
>>> FOAF, if successful, should help the Web do the sorts of things that are
>>> currently the proprietary offering of centralised services.
>>> RDF seems to offer a lot of promise in this area. While RDF is defined
>>> in terms of a rather abstract information model, our needs are rather
>>> practical. We want to be able to ask the Web sensible questions and
>>> common kinds of thing (documents, organisations, people) and get back
>>> sensible results.
>>>     * "Find me today's web page recommendations made by people who work
>>> for Medical organisations".
>>>     * "Find me recent publications by people I've co-authored documents
>>> with."
>>>     * "Show me critiques of this web page, and the home pages of the
>>> author of that critique"
>>>     * etc...
>>> All this sounds a bit ambitious (and it is), but we think we've a
>>> reasonable sense of how to build a linked information system with these
>>> capabilities. """
>>> As I look at getting a revised statement of goals written, I'd love to
>>> hear more about what folk on the FOAF mailing lists find interesting,
>>> compelling or intriguing. What motivates you to spend time working with
>>> FOAF and RDF and linked data? Why do you care? How did you end up on
>>> this mailing list, or interested in RDF and Semantic Web?
>> Will try and give some answers to this:
>> I've followed FOAF on a casual bases for quite some time, recognising
>> it as an important technology, due to its open and extensible nature.
>> However, the thing that really got me interested was when I realised
>> you could use your FOAF profile, as a global identity, just by adding
>> a public key to it.  As such, this allows single sign on accross the
>> whole web.
>> FOAF has inspired two important technologies, in this respect:
>> 1) FOAF+SSL [1] which piggy backs off SSL, to allow a client prove
>> that they own a profile
>> 2) OpenID ("Your global identifier throughout the web isn't
>> "happygirl234324" or an email address, or
>> "bradfitz at identityserver.com", but your FOAF URL" -- Brad Fitzpatrick
>> [2] )
>> Both of which I find interesting, though OpenID seems to have veered
>> off the original FOAF concept.  I like FOAF+SSL again because if it's
>> openness and extensibility, and it also has the advantage of not
>> requiring a 3rd party Identity Provider, you can authenticate using
>> your browser alone.
>> I find this an attractive model for the web, and this lead to my
>> interest in the group.
>> FOAF appears to be quite "grass roots" which is something I like, so
>> one of my aims is to add some contributions to the ecosystem.
>> I think FOAF is perhaps the sleeping giant of the internet, and may
>> become the biggest social network.  What interests me is leveraging
>> the power of machine readable linked data, in conjunction with a
>> massive network, and building intelligent systems to allow people to
>> interact, in ways not thought of before.
>> Perhaps my only reservation about FOAF is that it can be a bit
>> overwhelming from the point of view of a beginner.  The amount of
>> information out there is good quality but it's hard to know where to
>> start, and which links to follow.  Also there isnt really a book on it
>> (though there is a section in practical RDF).  I think perhaps one of
>> the goals of FOAF might be to try and make it more accessible to a
>> wider audience, one idea might be in targetting and organising the
>> wiki page [3] to be aimed at beginners, while having more advanced
>> content on the main foaf project site
>> Overall, I find the FOAF community to be an amazing group of people,
>> not only in terms of the intellect and thought put into their
>> solutions, but also the approachability and helpfulness that seems
>> ubiquitous.  I've benefitted greatly as a beginner learning about this
>> technology over the last year, and so would be keen to make sure I do
>> my bit, to help others as well.  Pehaps a longer term goal might be to
>> work in the field, or be part of a start up, but I think some more of
>> the infrastrcutre needs to be built out before I'd consider that.
>> I hope that explains some of my motivations, but above all, I want to
>> be around with all this takes off! :)
>> [1] http://esw.w3.org/topic/foaf+ssl
>> [2] http://community.livejournal.com/lj_dev/683939.html
>> [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOAF_(software)
>>> Am interested in any and all responses to this, on-list, or offlist,
>>> blogged or emailed.
>>> Thanks for your thoughts!
>>> cheers,
>>> Dan
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Kingsley Idehen	      Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
President & CEO 
OpenLink Software     Web: http://www.openlinksw.com

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