FluidDB and Web Semantics

Ok, here we are again, the Web 3.0 or making sense of all the data on the internet. There are two ways to do it: top-down or bottom-up approach. Top-down here refers to automatically connecting the dots (so to speak) ala Google, while the bottom-up approach refers to manual, human-driven fashion ala Twine. The question is, how much information companies like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are willing to contribute to FluidDB? If it’s open data, no problem. FluidDB then becomes a single repository of information or in FluidDB’s lingo, objects. What’s interesting is that these objects (or collections of tags) have no owners, are never deleted, can be queried, and on an equal footing. Applications and users do not have to ask for permission to add data to FluidDB, and no one need anticipate their needs.

All tags on all objects are treated uniformly in FluidDB. There is no distinction between the system user and any other user. Objects do not have one special piece of “content” with the rest being considered metadata. FluidDB makes absolutely no distinction between data and metadata (though an application is free to do so, of course).

The permissions system is the sole arbiter of who may do what. This uniformity means FluidDB has a single API for creating information, it has a single method of protecting information, and it has a single query language for accessing information. All applications use these identical tools.

Permissions

For each action that be applied to any tag or namespace within FluidDB, there is:

  • A policy (either ‘open’ or ‘closed’); and
  • A (possibly empty) list of exceptions to the policy.

The various actions that can be performed on a tag are readupdatecreate and see. The combination of the various actions with policies and exceptions provides a fine-grained permission model within FluidDB. It should be re-emphasized that only tags and namespaces have permissions allowing for various levels of control.

If you thought this sounds like Wikipedia, it is but with a twist. First, unlike Wikipedia, FluidDB is going to monetize its database. And second, unlike Wikipedia which is a repository of knowledge, FluidDB is going to be a repository of information in context -alongside related information.

Usability, openness and collaboration. That’s how FluidDB is going to measure up. The future is in the data, but to paraphrase Danah Boyd, with information transparency comes information literacy.

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