Working Group 2: Software
Overview of the development lines
Hyper is a web application created to help scholars in accessing primary sources (like manuscripts) and to share the result of their researches. Accessing the primary sources is one of the main priority for the scholars, as those are usually difficult and costly to be accessed. The sharing of the research results is what makes the project valuable for the entire community, which is provided with editions, essays, comments and so on strictly related to the authors involved in each platform. Hyper is being developed as part of the European project Discovery.
Currently, there are several installations of the Hyper platform in use (dedicated to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, the pre-socratics, and the modern philosophers) each of which is used by a community of scholars interested in the authors involved. Each group of scholars has contributed to it by adding primary sources as well as contributions.
Such installations are not yet publicly accessible, to have an idea of some of the functionalities that will be implemented by the new version of Hyper, please have a look at http://www.hypernietzsche.org, based on a previous version of the software.
Hyper is developed using PHP as a programming language and also makes use of the PostgreSQL Database Management System to store the data. The developers, beside communicating among themselves, also refers to the final users, the scholars, which provides insight on the functionalities to be implemented and which will, then, take advantages of them.
The Hyper project will be stopped once the Talia one will be ready. All the data stored in the various Hyper platform installed at present, will be migrated to the new Talia installations, so to preserve all the work done by scholars during the past years.
Talia is a semantic digital web library system, designed to help philosophy researchers and scholars in their work with digital content and provide them with all the resources needed for their work. It is being developed as part of the European project Discovery (http://www.discovery-project.eu).
Talia uses Semantic Web technology, meaning that it can easily store any kind of descriptive information about the documents, as well as describe the relations between them. It offers a web interface that can be customised for the needs of different user communities. Talia will also be a publishing platform, allowing the scholars to publish new findings directly in the system, using a traditional peer-reviewed publication process.
Talia is developed using the Ruby programming language, and the Ruby on Rails framework. Using a dynamic programming language makes access to semantic data very easy, while the use of Rails allows for the rapid development of customised web interfaces.
Talia is developed in close co-operation with the scholars who will be using it and the final Federation will contain tens of thousands of original manuscripts, publications and multimedia elements.
For an overview of the project and related news please refer to http://www.talia.discovery-project.eu/, while for technical info you can go to the development web site at http://trac.talia.discovery-project.eu.
What is Philospace?
Philospace is an innovative client application that allows users to browse philosophical content, published in the Talia web platform, leveraging the power of semantic knowledge associated to such contents.
Furthermore, using Philospace, users can add additional metadata, such as comments to documents or parts of them, or enstablish semantic relations among philosophers, philosophical works, philosophical concepts and so on, thus creating a personal semantic space . Such an additional knowledge can be kept locally, for personal use only, or shared with other Philospace users. The result would be the creation of communities where users collaboratively build a common knowledge about a specific philosopher or, in general, a specific topic.
In Philospace, similarly to what happens in Talia, knowledge is completely expressed using Semantic Web standard languages (RDF, RDFS, OWL), fostering data interoperability between the two platforms and even with external applications. With Philospace, users can in fact dynamically import knowledge from different information sources (e.g. DBPedia, a RDF version of WikiPedia) which support RDF.
Philospace and Discovery...
Philospace is one of the tools under development within the Discovery EU project, where it has a precise role. Philospace will be used by content publishers (e.i. maintainers of the different thematic Talia based web sites that will be deployed) to incrementally enrich the published information, thus providing novel browsing capabilities to such web sites.
Our vision, however, goes a step forward: releasing Philospace to the end users, so to provide scholars with a powerful, flexible, collaborative knowledge manager to help them in their everyday activity.
Philospace can be customized to work in specific domains just by loading the appropriate Ontology. In Discovery a set of Semantic Web ontologies (expressed in RDFS) are being developed to address the need of the specific philosophical domain the project deals with(namely Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Ancient and Modern Greek philosophy), so different versions of Philospace will be available.
Although specifically thought to work in conjunction with Talia, Philospace will be general enough to allow semantic annotation of generic Web resources and to act as an Semantic Web information manager in a variety of contexts.
Philospace and DBin...
Philospace is mostly based on the DBin 2.0 Semantic Web platform, that provides a comfigurable UI and the capabilities of editing, exporting, publishing and merging "on-the-fly" RDF data. Further information and an alfa release of DBin 2.0 can be found at http://dbin.org. Please consider that the web sites, at the moment, mostly describes DBin 1.0, that is inherently different from DBin 2.0 under many aspects.
Like DBin 1.0, DBin 2.0 is developed in Java, built on top of Eclipse RCP and implements the Brainlets paradigm that provides a highly customizable user interface.
Unlike DBin 1.0, however, DBin 2.0 does not make use of the RDFGrowth P2P algorithm to create Semantic Web user communities. Rather, it bases on the "legacy" Web infrastructure and on Semantic Web Pipes, as means for RDF data exchange among distributed users.
Contact person: Christian Morbidoni (christian.morbidoni-AT-gmail.com)
During the past years of COST activity and meetings, a number of software tools nad needs has been individuated which are, at present time, missing, not addresesed, or not yet enough mature and which would help scholars in accomplishing a variety of everyday tasks. Some of them can be tought as additional functinality to be plgged-in in the platform that are currently under development and which have been presented so far.
We here report some of them, but surely additional one can be tought of.
- Generalised API for plugging in NLP and semantic analysis routines
- Comprehensive system architecture and developer documentation
- Federated (semantic) searche engine, capable of search over federated web sites (e.g. Talia installations)
- Reliable (semantic) platform-internal searche engine
- Bibliometric web service
- Gradual looking glass transparency
- Caching system for existing rhizomes generator
- Global caching subsystem
- Web service for rhizome generation
- Tool for semantically comparing images
- Tool for semantically comparing textual documents
- Traslators from XML based markups (TEI) into RDF annotations
Contact person: Danilo Giacomi (danilo.giacomi-AT-gmail.com)