Monday, December 11, 2006

NEPOMUK - Creating The Social Semantic Desktop

Yesterday the KDE Commit-Digest introduced a new project called NEPOMUK which attracted my attention. Ignoring my buzzword alarm I'd call it "Web 2.0 meets the Semantic Desktop". In a first step NEPOMUK implements a framework to store and manage meta data for files. Now the new idea is to bridge the gap between formal ontologies (idea of the semantic web) and oceans of unstructured online data (folksonomies).

There's a lot of research on semi-formal methods going on, which looks very promising. Of course many projects tried to reach exactly the same goal, but I think that NEPOMUK has a real chance.

NEPOMUK starts with a simple integration as meta data framework in KDE. This way it creates value right from the start. Since KDE 4 is going to be available for Windows, the meta data based semantics will be available there, too. It doesn't try to do everything at once like WinFS does. It is just an extension to the current file model we all know.

Desktop search engines like strigi can integrate the new features of NEPOMUK and collaborate in a way that makes data access what WinFS wanted it to be. This way the desktop will be enhanced, not reinvented.

The next step is to integrate the personal knowledge management with the folksonomy based web applications. In my opinion this will be the great challange, since computers have a hard time understanding semi-formal data. But since NEPOMUK is integrated into KDE, many developers will be available to create the semantic online integration step by step.

I'm very excited about this new project and will follow it closely - this could very well be the hour of birth of a new desktop concept: the social semantic desktop.

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