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Los Angeles Smart Data Message Board › Step by Step Advice on where and how to Get Started learning the Semantic We

Step by Step Advice on where and how to Get Started learning the Semantic Web technology

A former member
Post #: 5
Hi to all who attended the Sept 9 Meeting in Hollywood.

In our collective and continuing quest for fast-track knowledge about semantics and discovering our possible future roles in this new field, the need for reference materials and a course of study evolved as the consensus need of the group attending.

I would propose to our organizer the need to develop a wiki for all related meetups members to use for purposes of collaboratively cataloging resources and providing links to relevant materials on and off the web.

I recently joined Semantic Universe: http://www.semanticun...­, and was pleased to discover Golda Velexz’s reference to Nova Spivack’s response to a discussion query that stated: “Nova, I'm looking for some advice. The semantic web field is exciting, it's promising. Suppose I'm a fairly competent programmer looking in from the outside. How do I break in and find work in the semantic web field?”

His timely and succinct response provided a step-by-step course of action. You will find a copy of his recommendation in the Files section, under the title of: Breaking into the Semantic Web, Part 1.

I am finding Semantic Universe to be a great resource, that was established specifically for the purpose of “Educating the World About Semantic Technologies and Applications”.

Good reading!
A former member
Post #: 10
Odd, I had just the opposite opinion: I didn't find Semantic Universe to be very useful for anything except for gathering commonly used terms. Some of the "news" articles were merely promotion of companies and gave no useful information, no comment I've added there to the end of an article has been published, many of the articles & blogs were badly written with undefined acronyms and poor writing and political propaganda, and the educational section was largely just excerpts from Pollock's book, which I already have (although I think it's a very good book). I'll try to find that reference you mentioned, though.

Here's the wiki/forum to which I was encouraged to contribute my word definitions / glossary...­

I'm very confused about that site's relationship with the SWNYC group, though. Since I don't live in New York, I just hang out in the definitions section and contribute to those. I haven't had time for much else.

P.S.--This must be the link you mentioned.


Pollock's book also ended with a list of suggestions for getting involved with the Semantic Web. If anybody's interested, I'll condense and list his suggestions here. As I mentioned at the meetup, I applied for a Semantic Web job that apparently wanted only people with Drupal experience. I also applied at Cycorp and they wanted applicants to take a test in first-order logic and recursive functions. After brushing up on my FOL for about a week, though, I e-mailed them back but they said I wasn't well enough matched to call me out for an interview. Gee, thanks for the notification, Cycorp. :-(
A former member
Post #: 6
Oops - I forgot to mention that I quoted the article "Breaking into the Semantic Web, Part 1." in a document that I uploaded to this site's Files Section, and yes you got the link right.

...And thanks for your insights on Semantic Universe. Those of us that met shared our desire to get started and our frustration on knowing where to turn to get the big picture and some view of practical entry points. It is my opinion that our Files section should hold some good starter materials, such as perhaps the 5 sections/papers with the following topic objectives covered:

A. Scope of technologies related to the Semantic Web and semantics use in business
B. One or more "official" recommended paths of study to follow to gain proficiency within various tracks.
C. Scope of jobs related to those identified tracks.
D. All known resources with reviews
E. News compilation

What are your suggestions for us newbies?
Susan K.
Redondo Beach, CA
Post #: 1
For someone brand new to Semantic Web, I recommend starting with the Semantic Web for Dummies book. From there you can use the reference pages on Mahalo as a guide for learning. Each topic page includes links, books, videos, Q/A, blogs, tweets and a list of related topics pages.

The following resources W3C Semantic Web, W3 Schools, and the Semantic Web Wiki are quite useful.

Subscribe to rss feeds of blogs, newsletters and google alerts for Semantic Web and Microformats.

Install Microformat/RDFa toolbars in you browser. For Firefox, I'm using Operator. I was surprised at how many sites have structured data.

Review the applications and tools of early adopters.

After all that, deep dive into those areas that interest you most, whether it is developing ontologies, creating data models, building applications to extract data...

Hung T.
Santa Monica, CA
Post #: 7
Stanley - there is a plethora of places to look for info. Please check out the great post by Dobalena on books. The Semantic Web For Dummies appears to be a really great primer.

Susan posted some great links I was about to suggests I hope you have had a chance to go there by now.

You may also want to take a look at the wikipedia page on the topic:
A former member
Post #: 8
In followup to my original request for more help and materials for us newbies, while books and articles are a vital resource, hands-on experience is generally the best way to get started in any new field.

You will note that this idea is introduced in the swnys thread "ontology-creation hack session?". I suggested that their proposed "vocamp' idea be packaged and made available at the local Meetup level so that us newbies can work together interactively in worksessions to master the creation of a sample ontology and learning how to effectively begin using the tools available.

which of you would like to participate in some hands-on training and experimentation with some of the production software?

Also... because we will continue to attract newcomers and many of them will also be newbies needing the same hands on training, this need for frequent workshops or at least the availability of online instructionals should be addressed sooner than later.

Also... this request brings attention to the very real need to provide a more comprehensive structure to Meetups of a technical nature. They can continue to serve as monthly introductions to the almost endless variety of related topics - something like a monthly newsflash, but... the parallel need for newcomers to "catch up" or at least to be able to delve into a particular topic in greater depth and to get hands-on experience, etc. needs to be addressed as well. Without this added feature, we will containue to see the very high dropout rate continue (as seen in most Meetups) I doubt anyone takes the time to poll new members as to what their expectations are and to periodically poll them to determine how well a Meetup is meeting those expectations. Much to be discussed here, if "success" is to be defined as that of retaining a group who will continue to acquire real working knowledge on an on-going basis... and ultimately be a valuable collaborative resource for one another.

What are your thoughts about including some workshop sessons where we can get our hands dirty struggling with learning and actually applying the basics?
A former member
Post #: 11

Yes, you, Alex, Pollack's book, that Semantic Universe link, employers, and my own conscience are all telling me the same thing: to start getting hands-on experience, especially via coding and maybe using free Semantic Web tools like Drupal. This week I just finished my third introductory book on the Semantic Web, it's clear that more intro books aren't going to help me much more (diminishing returns), and it's getting harder to find more good books on the Semantic Web anyway (I really want two books on Description Logic out of my own interest, but I haven't found any copy of the first book for under $100, or any copy of the second book for under $300!). My own problem is that I'm struggling with much more basic issues now (job, housing, Internet access, etc.) so having time and facilities to experiment with coding just isn't going to happen for me for the next several weeks unless maybe at a session like you suggest. But you're absolutely right: there's no escaping that next step of hands-on experience.

"On any given week, you might be able to find a few hundred open positions
in the United States and Canada for Semantic Web skills like RDF, OWL, and
graph data modeling, but there aren't enough experienced developers to
meet the demand. Your project is competing with many other projects for
the developers who already have hands-on experience. Of course, any experi-
enced software developer can learn RDF/OWL in a fairly short period, but the
experiences of using these languages on a real project are priceless."
"Semantic Web for Dummies" (Jeffrey T. Pollock, 2009, p. 333)

And below is a summary of Pollock's suggestions from the above-quoted book. To me these suggestions sound awfully theoretical rather than practical, though.

Summary of "Ten Next Steps to Take from Here" (Chapter 18)
1. Try Twine
2. Explore Yahoo! SearchMonkey
3. Check Out Calais
4. Read Up on RDF and OWL Modeling or Attend Training
5. Read the RDF and OWL Specifications
6. Contact Your Trusted Vendors
7. Write Down and Assess New Ideas
8. Ask Zepheira
9. Prototype Using Open-Source and Free Software
10. Sell Your Boss on the Idea!

Hung T.
Santa Monica, CA
Post #: 9
Gentlemen - I hear both of you and my thanks for the great feedback. It helps feeds into some of the things I'm planning for our group in the longer term.

For the short term - please take a look at both of the books I have listed both are fantastic books and go very quickly right into hands on. Programming the Semantic Web which I have - gives goes through a basic exercise that lets you create an RDF triple store right at the beginning - one can't get more hands on than that!

And also I encourage you both to attend our next meetup presented by Brian Sletten. I've attended Brian's sessions before and they are all excellent you are in for a great treat of learning!

Now also you are speaking hands on - if you are in for a little travel to the bay area - the semantic web meetup in SF are having Semweb install fest. Link here:­

If my schedule allows I would love to be there for this.
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