[okfn-discuss] open shakespeare: update

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Wed Jun 28 18:34:16 UTC 2006

On Sun, Jun 25, 2006 at 07:19:48PM +0100, Rufus Pollock wrote:
> Jo Walsh wrote:
> >very nice! questions:
> >- http://gutenkarte.org - anywhere near some of your dreams? sadly
> >  there are 'issues' in re the source + metacarta releasing it; but
> >  the parser/geotagger API is open, as is the client code. 
> Looks very cool. This would tie in really well with the microfacts idea 
> we've talked about. Of course an open API does *not* = open knowledge 
> (as you point out when mentioning the source issues).

Gutenkarte/GeoParser is an odd case for this. What's behind the API is
a combination of data and process, so this is not just an 'Open API'
for something that, given the original public domain body of
knowledge, it would be possible to reconstruct without an effort that
went further than 'arrangement'. 

GeoNames for example offer a similar geotagging service to MC; they
distribute the data from which it is built under a CC-BY license at
http://www.geonames.org/export/ . Some of the webservices are easily
'extrapolatable', others are not. Commercial services reuse the data,
but via a webservice interface, geonames doesn't get attribution. And
arguably they are redistributing a lot of data that comes from public
domain (US gov) sources; what exactly is it they're "re-licensing"?

On a completely different tack. Recently I've been goaded into reading 
a lot of puritan sermons by a friend who i was *startled* to discover
subscribes to a literalist, calvinist-creationist flavour of
christianity. I have no background in this stuff whatsoever, no
context for a framework of understanding even how a mind can hold
these beliefs; so i am slowly sloughing through the King James too. 

There is this incredible tradition of exegesis, cross-reference and so on. 
There are some rather neat search-and-reference tools online, but none 
of them i have found have machine-readable API interfaces - stuff like
http://www.blueletterbible.org/freeoffer.html that none-the-less does
some good phrase matching and something like the 'beads on a string' /
'atoms of facts' approach which you talk about, Rufus. 

I want automation for the context of the sermons - something that
should be straightforward to do in a lot of ways, as references come
with chapter and verse and are very often in quotes. Once I've got a
reference of some degree of confidence via an 'Open API' of whatever
degree of openness (say a reparser of a search interface like the
above, that spews out RSS/RDF, or a service built on that which can
take a body of text, cross-reference and spit it back out with links
and in wiki markup format); I republish the annotated data - is it now 
open and free? 

Open exegesis... WikiTalmud? Perhaps I'm being silly, but let me
become a fool that i may be wise, and so on. 

Another thing that strikes me is how the core of this is a persistent,
predictable URI scheme. Sigh, years ago when I first ran into the
INSPIRE directive and started banging my head against the EU body of
legislation i registered ecdirectives.info to do this, provide predictable 
URIs for Directives in such a way as they'd be semi-automatably
cross-referenceable - mostly to help myself unpick the 'This paragraph
is without prejudice to Section 2.2 of 2003/05/23' reference nest. 
As often with my software I never got to the point of making it usable
by others. It had CGI::Wiki as a backend, and that's obsolete now.
ISTR Gavin Bell et al had a wiki-annotatable concordant version of the
proposed European Constitution going, but the Constitution was pretty
obviously tanking by the time they actually launched it... that was
mediawiki based. 

I sense i am rambling... :)


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