Harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world™

Social Actions API Enhancements

Posted on January 21st, 2011 by Rob DiCiuccio

We’re happy to announce that is among the first to utilize the latest version of the Social Actions API. The updated API includes several enhancements, such as semantic content analysis, term boosting, and the ability to query by and return Linked Data entities.

From yesterday’s announcement:

The updates introduce Semantic Analysis and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to the Social Actions API and begin to connect Social Actions to the wider Linked Open Data community.
Link TV, in prototyping their ViewChange platform, noticed that the Social Actions API wasn’t producing the best possible results. They invited us to explore with them what would be involved in updating our platform so that ViewChange could feature more relevant results.
Link TV, along with Doug Puchalski and Rob DiCiuccio of Definition, helped us articulate the changes that would need to occur and then connected us with a funder who could underwrite what amounted to a very significant enhancement to our code base. In one month, we had approximately as large an investment in the technology as we’d had in total up until that point.
The Social Actions API now cross-references issues and locations with universal identifiers that have been assigned to them. Just like you might cross-reference the subject of a book with a Dewey Decimal number, we are now cross-referencing each action with a universal identifier that helps to link it to related data. Using Zemanta, we are able to provide URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier) from Freebase and DBPedia that make the connection between actions in our system and other material on the web that relates to the same topic.

The ability to query using Linked Data URIs (e.g. removes the ambiguity inherent with a traditional keyword query (“John Adams”), which could be interpreted as any number of persons, such as the former U.S. President or the composer.

We hope that, through this enhanced integration between Social Actions and, we are able to help you get involved by bringing you relevant, timely actions, so you can make a difference.

Read the entire interview with Peter Dietz from Social Actions.

On Linked Data and

Posted on November 17th, 2010 by Rob DiCiuccio

One of the primary goals of has been to bring the concepts of the Semantic Web to video. When we began conceptualizing the ViewChange platform, the use of Linked Data and participation in the Linking Open Data (LOD) cloud were core requirements, as we wanted to provide both semantic meaning and the potential for deep exploration. Being a video-centric site, this presented a unique set of challenges.

The Web of text

HTML, XML, RDF, JavaScript, CSS. The foundation of the Web is text-based. While online video is becoming increasingly popular, and now accounts for a large percentage of Internet traffic, video is still somewhat a second-class citizen on the Web. This is beginning to change, as new open video standards emerge, but as it stands, we have to transcribe the video in order to process its content. Once we have text transcriptions of the videos, we are able to operate on a level playing field. Video transcripts are analyzed using Entity Extraction tools, and topics (disambiguated Named Entities) extracted from the raw text. The resulting topics are linked to online databases such as Freebase and DBpedia, which provide the connection to the LOD cloud.

Metadata & accessibility exposes semantic metadata in a number of ways. RDFa markup is used throughout the site to identify resources and the relationships between them. Popular ontologies, such as Dublin Core, FOAF, and Facebook’s Open Graph protocol, are used to provide standard, interoperable metadata, and enhanced accessibility. Topic and video pages also provide RDF/XML representations, for efficient machine processing.
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Entity Extraction & Content API Evaluation

Posted on May 18th, 2010 by Rob DiCiuccio

The platform utilizes several third-party APIs to perform semantic content analysis and related content aggregation. The technologies developed by these partners have allowed us to leverage powerful tools for entity extraction and content discovery, and facilitate integration with the emerging Semantic Web. These tools allow us to focus more of our efforts on creating an engaging user experience, as well as building new open source tools for content curation, without duplicating the efforts of others.

There are several open APIs that provide semantic analysis and content discovery services. The following evaluation was conducted in February 2010, in order to assess the available APIs and their compatibility with the needs of the platform. The API tests were performed using a custom PHP application for querying and displaying API results. If you would like the source for the test application, send me a message.
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