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Active Inspiration

Posted by JeremyGThomas May 21, 2009

During a recent meeting somebody on my team came up with the idea of pulling in "inspirational" tweets, photos, videos from around the web for a given Active topic, like marathon or 10k.  I thought it was a great idea, so we worked together to build a prototype and threw it on Labs


Enter Active Inspiration.  We're pulling in the latest tweets and photos about marathons, triathlons and cycling.  I suppose you could say this was also inspired by flickrvision and twittervision, except ours is meme-based and also aggregates from multiple sources (we'll be adding more soon).


We think there are lots of interesting things we can do with this data.  This is just the beginning.  As always, let us know what you think.

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Consider the following statements: Microsoft Corporation created C#.  C# is used to develop computer programs.




Now think of all of the concepts and relationships between them that are introduced in this statement.  As a human, interpreting these is dead simple.


  • Microsoft is a company

  • C# is a computer programming language

  • Microsoft created C#


But, making it so that a computer program can reduce this statement to concepts and the relationships between them is difficult.  It is indeed a harrowing task to make computers derive the same meaning from natural language that people do.


Enter the The Semantic Web.  The Semantic Web wants to convert the Internet into a database; to make it so computer programs can understand concepts and relationships between concepts contained within in the natural language on web pages.


Microformats are an element of the Semantic Web that define concepts (but don't do a good job of defining relationships), and we've recently introduced them on  Microformats "...are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards" that make it possible to annotate a web page with metadata describing concepts contained within them.   On we've implemented the hCalendar microformat to annotate events.


Consider, for example, the Carlsbad 5000.  Peering into the HTML source, you'll find:


<div class="vevent">

   <h3 class="summary">Carlsbad 5000</h3>

   <span class="description"></span>

   <span class="dtstart" title="Sunday, April 05, 2009 @ 7:05 AM">Sunday, April 05, 2009 @ 7:05 AM</span>

   <span class="dtend" title="Sunday, April 05, 2009 @ 10:05 AM">Sunday, April 05, 2009 @ 10:05 AM</span>

   <span class="location">Carlsbad, CA</span><span class="uid"></span></div>



By annotating the "class" name attributes within the HTML elements according to the hCalendar standard, we can let a computer program know there's an event called the "Carlsbad 5000" on this web page, its start time, end time and location.  The Tails Export Firefox plugin, for example, is a computer program that detects microformats on web pages.  In the screenshot below we can see it detecting the hCalendar microformat on the Carlsbad 5000 event page:



This stuff's a little geeky sure.  But we're proud to contribute to the Semantic Web! on to come.

1,852 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: active, product_development, semantic_web, microformats