Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Semantic Web for everybody

Suppose you are about to launch a great new Semantic Web application, but you don't have much hardware. The bottleneck of most Semantic Web applications is the triplestore, which can be seen as the equivalent of the SQL database in normal web applications. Companies can afford the hardware to host a big one, but volunteers (such as mashup and open source people) can not.

That's where free RDF data hosting comes in. Yes, you can get a triplestore for free. Couple that with a traditional LAMP stack (there is a lot of free LAMP hosting) and you can deploy a Semantic Web application for ¥0 ! A company called Talis is now offering free RDF data hosting, complete with remote SPARQL querying, provided the data is public domain. I hope other companies such as OpenLink will follow. I received an account from Talis' programme manager Leigh Dodds and tried it right away, loading and querying data, with success. They also provide an API that seems quite interesting, but I did not try it yet.

This will be extremely useful to open-source/open-data groups who are run by volunteers and want to enter the Semantic Web scene. In particular, I expect this will lead to an explosion in the number and quality of mashup websites on the Web.

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