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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. at SemTech

Posted on August 12th, 2010 by Hannah Eaves

It’s been a busy few months for us at, between launching our beta site, conducting usability studies, and adding new features. Expect a few posts in the coming days to bring you up to date on everything we’ve been up to.

In late June, we presented at SemTech in San Francisco, the self-professed “world’s largest, most authoritative conference on semantic technology.”  If you’re in to triple stores, SPARQL queries, and W3C working groups, SemTech is the conference for you. For us, there was the chance to tell people about, catch up with partners, and crash some of the less techie panels.

In what was a largely controversy-free (and thus Twitter-lite) conference, Andraz Tori from the semantic blogging plug-in/API/wizardry tool Zemanta sparked some debate with his presentation, “User Interfaces for Semantic Web: Do They Have to Be Ugly?” Happily, as a partner, Andraz had early access to our site and included some slides of it as an example of good design. He argued that a major factor in the success of semantic interfaces, including the BBC’s Nature site, is that they keep the semantic part to themselves. The user experience and design are just improved by the features and SEO bump that come with linking content semantically, but the ordinary person wouldn’t necessarily notice the change. Instead, their experience would be more along the lines of, oh, this looks nice, and now I can find everything I’m interested in (and possibly even some things they didn’t know they were interested in).

Away from SemTech, this point was reinforced when we recently met with John Domingue from the Open University in the UK. On top of giving us an amazing overview of EU funding for semantic research, he mentioned that the BBC had just had similar success with its World Cup site. If you haven’t read up on that yet, the BBC developed its own ontology to fuel “automated metadata-driven web pages” created on the fly. According to Domingue, the experiment was a great success, and when added to Nature and the BBC’s Music site, represents the biggest stable of successful semantic sites whose semantic-ness under the hood hasn’t altered their user-centric design choices.

(A word of warning to anyone who is both using the Zemanta API and touring around demoing their semantic website: using Zemanta’s blogging demo as a tool to explain what the terms “Semantic Web” and “Linked Data” mean will work really, really well. Too well. It may upstage your own presentation.)

Back at SemTech, on top of presenting a talk on “Semantic Web Tools for Video and Social Change,” we also took part in a publishers panel that brought together OpenCalais and Phase2 Technology. Phase2 is the web development firm behind OpenPublish, the Drupal-based online semantic publishing package powered by OpenCalais and used by The Nation and The New Republic, among others (Phase2 also built a little site called It was great to be invited onto the panel by OpenCalais. Tom Tague from OpenCalais echoed Andraz’s presentation, calling on new semantic sites to think of the user experience first and foremost. Tech talk was shunned in favor of conversation about real world examples of working sites and applications, including a lengthy profile of The biggest revelations seemed to come from Phase2 CEO Jeff Walpole when describing the improved SEO experienced by publishers who have regeared their sites using OpenPublish.