Four notions of “wishlist” for FOAF

After the recent SWAD-Europe meeting on ImageDescription techniques, I made some scribbled notes in a bar on different notions of “wishlist” that might make sense to use with FOAF.

At the ImageDescription meeting we talked a lot about the difficulty of scoping such technical activities, since problem spaces overlap in ways that create opportunities and frustration in equal measure. The idea of having a “wishlist” association with a person’s homepage or FOAF profile(s) illustrates just this. A related idea is that of a foaf:tipjar, ie. a relationship between a person and a document (or part of a document) which explains how to pay or otherwise reward that person. The idea of public wishlists is associated with the practice of companies such as Amazon, who allow people to expose lists of things they’d like bought for them (eg. as Birthday presents). Danny Ayers has done some work on transforming Amazon wishlists into a FOAF/RDF format. This can also be seen as one half of the concept of bartering explored by Ian Davis, and in earlier FOAFShop scribbles. It is far from clear how all this stuff fits together in a way that best suits incrementally fancy deployment.

Anyway, here are four notions of Wishlist as discussed in Spain.

Sense 1: Wishlists as true descriptions

This notion of a wishlist can be characterised as a relationship between a Person (or Agent) and a description of the world. The idea is that the “wish” is for the description to be true. Any RDF description of the world can be used. For example, I might wish for a job at Microsoft (ie. for the foaf:Person whose foaf:homepage is http://danbri.org/ to have a foaf:workplaceHomepage of http://www.microsoft.com/). Or I might wish to get to know someone (expressible with foaf:knows), or for anything else that RDF can describe. A variation on this design is to express that I wish some RDF-expressible state of affairs not to be a true description of the world.

Sense 2: to own particular things

This is a common sense of wishlist. A wishlist in this sense is just a list of things, associated with a Person or Agent that wishes to own them.

Sense 3: an information-oriented expression of interest

Somewhat different, this one. Idea is that we might want to express informational wishes, for example we might want to leave “questions” in the Web, and have services answer them, notifying us of the answers (via email, RSS/Atom, etc.). This kind of wishlist could be implemented through users publishing queries (expressed in terms of RDF/XML descriptions) alongside their FOAF files.

Sense 4: Wanting to own things that match some particular template description.

This is a hybrid of 2 and 3, and can be seen as a common generalisation of 2. In practice, the notion of wishlist as a “list of items one wants to own” is likely to be implemented through a description of the things on that list. The implicit assumption is that for each thing on the list, there is at most one desired object that matches the description (eg. some particular book with ISBN and title). However in practice there are often multiple objects that meet a description, and it is actually quite difficult to constrain item descriptions so that there is only one possible match.

Instead of saying that one wants to own the car whose numberplate is ABC-FOAF-1 you could say “I’d like to own a wn:Car that is RED and whose foaf:maker has a foaf:homepage of http://www.audi.co.uk/ and which is the foaf:primaryTopic of some specified page.

Synthesis?

Senses 2 and 4 could be re-characterised using sense 1, using notions such as foaf:owns (which doesn’t exist at the time of writing). In other words, ownership-oriented wishlist mechanisms can be seen as being based expressions of a desire that “it should be true that … owns …”, for some particular person and entity.

The big question is… what to do next? what would it make sense to add to, or use with, FOAF?

Arabeyes Project and English/Arabic Wordlist

The Arabeyes project has a lot of interesting work going on to improve Arabic support in Unix/Linux environments. Their Wordlist project is an attempt to produce a GPL’d English/Arabic dictionary. It seems to be off to a good start as a list of translated words, but I wonder if it could do with more structure, perhaps using something like the Wordnet approach?

Elsewhere in the Web, I found a paper describing a A Prototype English-Arabic Dictionary Based on WordNet (pdf), which might be worth investigating.

Arabic tutorials online

I’ve been looking around for online Arabic tutorials. The best I’ve found so far is a helpful-looking online Arabic tutorial which includes numerous ‘realaudio’ sound clips. This seems much better than learning from CD or MP3, as you have much more control over the audio, and can repeat words and phrases over and again if needed.

The ukindia tutorial concentrates on the alphabet. ‘Let’s learn some arabic‘ has a few basic words and phrases, in a single page.

This is interesting: #arabic, a web site to accompany an IRC chat channel used for learning Arabic. I also found a longish list of links to other online learning resources.

Other sites: introduction to the Arabic alphabet; also another overview using realaudio.

WordPress explorations

I’ve just installed WordPress a new tool to manage this site, and potentially others (including installations for FOAF and W3C work). While I’m a big fan of Movable Type, I do like the idea of working with opensource software that I can contribute to. From what I’ve seen of WordPress, it has a lot to offer, and should be easy to extend.

Tijuana

We popped over the border from San Diego last night.

Our experience of Mexico was as a 3rd world freakshow. Want dancing girls friend? big boobies butt naked, best bar in Tijuana, I take you. 10 beers for 10 bucks. Friend, where you from? Friend?

Some music words

Apple just released GarageBand, a package designed to flood the Internet with music made by arhythmic, tone-deaf computerists such as myself. In preparation for this, I have been trying to find out what I don’t know.Martin learned me some music words. Octave. After-touch. MIDI. Transpose. Loop. Sample. USB-MIDI interface. Gate. Reverb. Crotchet (and minim, etc.).

And with iChat’s audio/video facilities, I can torture my Mac-using friends without moving from the computer.

I’ve also bought a cheap-ass keyboard, so I’m all set. Just add talent…

World Peace – Dream or Possibility?

Many organisations, religious and secular, have long since found that if people of goodwill, representing various nations, meet together to discuss some matter of common interest, a spirit of friendship is developed. In such circumstances, individuals frequently discover to their suprise that foreigners are, at heart, very like themselves. Consequently, one of the best methods of advancing the idea of World-Peace is to organise such opportunities for international friendship.

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Notes from Bristol Amnesty International meeting

Jan 15 AI Bristol: Martin, Nancy, Margaret

Notes taken at the January 15th 2004 Bristol Amnesty International (AI) meeting. There were two guest speakers on the topic of “Israel, Palestine and Amnesty’s new mandate“: Martin Knight, AIUK Co-ordinator for Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Palestine Authority, and Nancy Rollason of Bristol Palestine Soldidarity Movement,

Note: this article was written a week afterwards based on my semi-legible handwritten notes. It likely containing errors and omissions (some but not all flagged with ‘@’ signs). This version (updated 18 March 2004) includes some edits and clarifications from Martin. The text that follows reports as closely as possible what I heard from Martin and Nancy. Also note that I’ve avoided prefixing each sentence with qualifiers such as “Martin reported that…”, since the article itself sets that context. Where my notes seem to capture a reasonably verbatim account of what was said, I’ve put the text in quotes; please bear in mind that I probably didn’t get it word-perfect. I’ve added a few links to supplementary materials that I found online. Except for the AI and ISM sites, these links weren’t provided by the speakers.
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