It's interesting to compare the core data models for RDF and for Twitter. In RDF, the fundamental particles are, as I've said, subject-object-predicate triples. To recast that last sentence into the RDF model, we would proceed as follows:
Assertion:That's probably too self-referential for most people to wrap their heads around, so instead I'll change the example:
object: subject-object-predicate triples
predicate: has fundamental particles of type
Assertion:I usually have trouble remembering which is the predicate and which is the object. If you think about it, however, you can express the same particle of knowledge in ways that swap the roles of predicate and object, or even subject and predicate. For example:
subject: The United States
object: Barack Obama
predicate: has a president named
Assertion:In your copious spare time, you can work out the other 4 permutations.
subject: Barack Obama
object: President of the United States
predicate: has the office of
Now let's look at Twitter. The particle of information in Twitter, the tweet, seems also to be a triple:
Tweet:The tweeter in turn has associated with it sets of followed users and followers as well as profile information. There's a lot to talk about here, and in a previous post I pointed out that Twitter message content is becoming richer and more linguistically complex. But the point I'd like to make for now is that twitter's point of view is that it doesn't care so much about what the message is saying as who is saying it and when it was said. The more we look at the RDF examples above, the more the subject-object-predicate representation of knowledge seems limiting. The assertion may be true or false depending on when it was said; assertions removed from the context of who is making the assertion are for the most part useless because machines have no way to know whether to trust the assertion.
message: going to bed now!
time: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 06:58:01 +0000
Friend-of-the-blog Jeff Young asserts that the OpenURL data model can be thought of as answering 6 questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Whatever success Twitter has achieved can be thought of as an argument that the most important of these are the Who, What and When.
Sanity Alert! the following may be mind-blowing to certain susceptible individuals: the data model that Twitter REALLY uses to propagate tweets is RSS and Atom. These formats are decended from what was originally called "Meta Content Format" which became "RDF Site Summary" (Yes, the very same RDF!) which became "Really Simple Syndication" or maybe something else, I'm not sure for sure. Here's how Twitter REALLY feeds into the semantic web:
title: gluejar: going to bed now!
description: gluejar: going to bed now!
pubDate: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 06:58:01 +0000
Exercise for the reader- how does this look in Atom?
Does anyone but me think that there's something weird going on here?