Adam Souzis, Rhizome @ CodeCon 2006, 4pm Sunday

Continuing prejudicial CodeCon session previews:

Adam Souzis: Rhizome, (scheduled for) 4pm Sunday @ CodeCon 2006

Rhizome is a open source project written in Python which consists of a stack of components:

At the top is Rhizome Wiki, a wiki-like content management system that let users create structured data with explicit semantics in the same way you create pages in a wiki.

Rhizome Wiki runs on top of Raccoon, a simple application server that uses an RDF model as its data store. Raccoon presents a uniform and purely semantic environment for applications. This enables the creation of applications that are easily migrated and distributed and that are resistant to change.

Raccoon uses two novel technologies to getting RDF in and out of the system: First, "shredding", which extracts RDF out of content such as HTML, wiki text, and various microcontent formats. Second, RxPath, a deterministic mapping between RDF's abstract syntax and the XPath data model which lets developers treat RDF as regular XML and allows them to use standard XML technologies such as XPath, XSLT, and Schematron to query, transform, present and validate RDF data.

I love wikis. I can't wait to see effective ways to allow wiki-style editting of (slightly) more-structured data than the free-form text for which wikis are known. But anything RDF tends to make my eyes glaze over. Even when there's something RDF-ish that's interesting, it's couched in terminology and indirection that hides the interesting parts.

So it's the aspects of Rhizome that insulate users from RDF -- extracting RDF automatically from familiar syntaxes, making RDF more amenable to usual XML operations -- that I look forward to seeing in this presentation. I'd be tickled pink if the demo showed a plausible interface for unsophisticated users -- for example, enthusiasts in non-technical fields -- to generate useful RDF about their fields... but I'm not holding my breath.

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