Web applications nowadays do everything you could think of - information-wise at least. You can look up any item of human knowledge and using hypertext trace through all the links to other topics, buy any book, listen to any music or see any films - and see the connections between your tastes and those of others, aggregated into lists and links both to help you and to provide information to others. As well as overlay annotations on geographical maps etc - we're really starting to map all our knowledge, as well as it's links and relationships.
It's obvious then that there is a need for an easy to use, accessible and simple looking general purpose application that allows relationships between concepts etc to be built and displayed by the general public.
Enter PARIP Explorer. It's software that is only and all about relationships between things. At the moment it describes arts researchers, their friends/aquaintances, interviews they've had. Since last week, you can link in to shows artists have done and view clips from them too. But a recent feature request has been to open it out and make it more generic, and work on this is underway by developer Simon Price.
Suppose you wanted to describe a riff, break it down, give it tempo, speed, notes, transcription, notes from the composer, video of it being played - everything could be there if it was needed for a lesson. If you wanted to inspire creativity in the way of an indian raga, you could explain it, tag it, and thus get it to people in a way in which it can be adapted - a high quality sample of the main melody for example - but easy to find and navigate to. This is happening a lot already but the connections don't have a pretty way of being shown. And it doesn't have to be about art related content (it's said a secret of myspace's success has been that it doesn't tell you what it itself is for)!
- A history mechanism. A parallel RDF file that is tagged with editing times for the rdf. This way you can go back to prior versions - that let you specify dates and enter information about them. Existing semantic web software like Memetic could be used to then display a timeline. This could have zoom capabilities - so that it could describe things with greater or smaller granularity. A sequence of actions, a performance, or a career. Other "dimensions" surely follow, such as languages used to describe things... Nothing new there.
- It needs to be rewritten as an online application that allows you to share RDF with other people.
- Python and turbogears??? ;)
- An option, but an interesting one explained below: make it distributed (a grid application similar to Seti/bbc weather etc) and add a cacheing mechanism to create a mesh network while files are online or in demand.
Maybe it shouldn't be a distributed application - maybe it should be a central database, but that database would have to be maintained by and be dependent on an institution or funder. As a mesh/grid application, using only resources(storage space, processing power, databases) from machines running nodes, and using algorithms from the freenet project we can see how to maintain in demand data. The system is not infallible: an example taking from my experience with art collectives is that there are always one or two people shouldering most responsibility, and true distribution of work/responsibility is rare and difficult to set up. On the other hand, this would also allow for brokerage of disclosure of sensitive information like - for example - personal social networks.
Actually, rdf data could be kept tagged with freenet keys, and could run in combo with that, running then on a local parip server in it's current guise. Running a server makes it's public information accessible to all other nodes. Private information could be for example contact/travel information if you were to visit an organisation. This could also be given via RDF (directly into an application that could interpret it), as well as a quick knowledgemap of the people you were meeting in the company(who knows who, past projects etc), but only to people who were actually authorised. This kind of system, in performance, means we can specify what we want without damaging the critic's view of the information, or that of the audience.
A similar application, perhaps quicker to demo would be to map wiki based info into Parip Explorer. Here are some links that talk about mediawiki(wikipedia's base software) and it's adaptation to support RDF export:
http://wiki.ontoworld.org/index.php/Help:RDF_export (This software allows you to set up a new wiki and easily add this info to parip explorer, but getting some of wikipedia's data would be much more impressive!)