FOAFing around

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I tried to create FOAF-files out of the ontology we created during the Summer School for the Semantic Web. It wasn't that hard, really: with our ontology I have enough data to create some FOAF-skeletons, so I looked into the FOAF-specification and started working on it.

<foaf:person about="#gosia">
  <foaf:knows resource="#anne" />
  <foaf:name datatype="">Gosia Mochol</foaf:name>
<rdf:description about="#anne">
  <rdfs:isdefinedby resource="" />

Well, every one of us gets his own FOAF-file, where one can find more data about the person. Some foaf:knows-relations have been created automatically for the people who worked together in a miniproject. I didn't want to assume too much else.

The code up there is valid FOAF as much as I can tell. But all the (surprisingly sparse) tools could not cope with it, due to different reasons. One complained about the datatype-declaration in the foaf:name and then ignored the name at all. Most tools didn't know that rdfs:isDefinedBy is a subproperty of rdfs:seeAlso, and thus were not able to link the FOAF-files. And most tools were obviously surprised that I gave the persons URIs instead of using the IFP over the sha1-sum of their e-Mails. The advantage of having URIs is that we can use those URIs to tag pictures or to keep track of each other publications, after the basic stuff has been settled.

Pitily, the basic stuff is not settled. To me it seems, that the whole FOAF stuff, although being called the most widespread use of the Semantic Web, is still in its infancy. The tools hardly collaborate, they don't care too hard about the specs, and there seems no easy way to browse around (Mortens explorer was down at the time when I created the FOAFs, which was frustrating, but now it works: take a look at the created FOAF files, entering with my generated FOAF file or the one for Enrico Motta). Maybe I just screwed it all up when generating the FOAF-files in the first run, but I don't think so really...

Guess someone needs to create some basic working toolset for FOAF. Does anyone need requirements?

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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