RapidOWL: A Methodology for Enabling Social Semantic Collaboration

RapidOWL: A Methodology for Enabling Social Semantic Collaboration

Sören Auer (University of Pennsylvania, USA & Institut für Informatik, Universität Leipzig, Germany)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-112-4.ch011
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In this chapter we give a brief overview on the recently emerging concepts of Social Software and Web 2.0. Both concepts stress the adaptive, agile methodological character of communication and collaboration. In order to lift the adaptive collaboration and communication patterns of Social Software and the Web 2.0 towards a truly semantic collaboration, we outline an adaptive knowledge engineering methodology–RapidOWL. It is inspired by adaptive software development methodologies from software engineering and emphasises support for small end-user contributions to knowledge bases.
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Examples from software development, communication and knowledge management show that the support for agile collaboration scenarios has an enormous potential for the reduction of resources, reducing development times and increase of quality. In software engineering, for example, the shift towards more adaptability in processes started long ago with methodologies like eXtreme Programming, Scrum and Adaptive Software Development. These individual approaches were later unified by the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” (Beck et al. 2001). Subsequently, agile methods in software engineering led to the creation of complex software applications like the GNU/Linux operating system, the Web browser Mozilla Firefox, and the office software OpenOffice. But the success of adaptive methodologies is by far not limited to software engineering: just recently, adaptive communication methods of social software (such as blogs, the Jabber or Skype networks and platforms like LinkedIn) have enabled entirely new communication patterns. The domain of collaborative publishing and content management was revolutionized by blog and wiki technologies, which resulted in far reaching news networks without central control and made the creation of the most comprehensive encyclopedia possible, which is edited solely by volunteers - Wikipedia.

The aim of RapidOWL now is to take advantage of the potential of adaptive processes for collaborative Knowledge Engineering. The major aim of RapidOWL is to make the elicitation, structuring and processing of knowledge and thus the cooperation among domain experts and knowledge engineers more efficient. The RapidOWL methodology is based on the idea of iterative refinement, annotation and structuring of a knowledge base. Central to the paradigm for the RapidOWL methodology is the attention given to the smallest possible information chunks (i.e. RDF statements). The collaborative aspect comes into its own by allowing those information chunks to be selectively added, removed, or annotated with comments and/or ratings. Design rationales for the RapidOWL methodology are to be light-weight, easy-to-implement, and supportive spatially distributed and highly collaborative scenarios.

RapidOWL is, on the one hand, inspired by the XP.K methodology (eXtreme Programming of Knowledge-based systems, (Knublauch 2002)), which extends Extreme Programming to an agile methodology for the development of knowledge-based systems. On the other hand, RapidOWL is influenced by the Wiki idea (Leuf & Cunningham 2001}, which established agile practices for collaborative text editing. However, contrary to XP.K the RapidOWL methodology stresses the generic nature of a knowledge base and thus focuses on development of knowledge bases, whose final usage scenario is either not a priori known or a single usage scenario is not easily definable. This is usually the case for conceptualizations targeting at information integration as well as for shared classification systems and vocabularies. Different from the Wiki idea on the other side RapidOWL’s artifacts are structured information and knowledge represented in statements rather than the Wiki’s unstructured text documents. Wiki’s are commonly seen as part of a development described by the terms Social Software or Web 2.0.

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