Mind the Gap!

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.’s newest data source is The London Tube’s Schedule in RDF/XML. The data is used by the online

Putting this data into RDF/XML is a wonderful idea. Can you imagine the possibilities if other London organizations started putting their events into an RDF/XML feed? Add yourself into the mix with FOAF, and a bit of glue such as a relationship defining ‘want to see’ and ‘want to attend’ and you have a way to pre-plan a trip to London, virtually at a click of the button.

I’ve been in London once, staying in a lovely hotel not far from Buckingham Palace. I found this hotel and got a nice deal through one of the online trip planners, I can’t remember which. But if this is thrown into the mix, and then add in plane reservation information (not to mention specials), you could arrange to get to London and back all at the click of a button. Just tell the system generally when you want to go, what you want to see, class of accommodations and flight and budget, and let it go to town.

If the data is present the technology now exists to not only schedule everything, but also print out several alternative itineraries, including Tube information coming and going from your hotel. Not only that, but the application could even print out maps of a certain size and format to fit into checkbook sized map holders with a clear plastic side, so that you can put all your maps into the holder, and then shift them as needed as you travel about.

You’d never get lost. You’d see everything you wanted to see. You’d spend what you want, but still get as close to the class of accommodation and flight you want. And you’d still have plenty of time just to wonder about and see the subtle aspects of London that seem to not get mentioned in Guidebooks.

Wait a sec – why not connect in Fodor and other guidebooks so that the system could recommend places that are similar to those identified in your ‘want to see’ relationship. That way you’ll see the Tate Modern, as well as the Tate Britain. Or that nice art gallery that had all the sketches of Botticelli’s Dante that inspired me to buy that huge book containing reproductions and a description of each.

And you have to eat, so why not describe in your FOAF file your likes and dislikes, whether you love Indian food, if you’re a vegetarian, and do you like to dress up for dinner. Then have the system suggest eating places near places your visiting. That way you can have time for a really nice Tea every day; because if you go to London and don’t have afternoon tea, you’ll miss one of the loveliest customs there is – skip lunch, go for Tea, eat dinner late. You’re in Europe, time to leave the Midwest 5pm supper at home.

Of course if you’re into spontaneity, you don’t need all of this. You grab a flight whenever it’s cheapest, throw your stuff in a backpack, land, find the nearest hostel and pub, meet the locals and then follow wherever the impulse leads you. Nice enough if you’re young, but when you’re a mature woman such as myself, hoping to connect up with locals in the pub just doesn’t have the same appeal it once had. Well, it does really; but there’s something seedy about a 50 year old woman going to a pub trying to connect up with the locals. Too bad really, but I’m not ready yet for the tour buses, either.

Besides, I’m all for have plenty of time to wonder around – but I don’t want to miss seeing both the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern, and having a lovely Tea in my beautifully situated and elegant hotel. And still have money left over to bring home a genuine London brolly.

Much of the work for all this has already been started, as you can see from Dan Connolly’s work and others.

Once London has been RDF’d, then we can turn to Paris, and New York, and Rome, and on and on. Interface all of this with PDAs and cellphones and I’m sure we could hook on to the iPod subculture in some way and quicker than Bob’s your uncle, you’ll have a piece of the Semantic Web, (that big letter one), based on bits of data borrowed from the semantic web (the ragtag one).

I’m ready to start. All I need now is venture capital money. Someone want to send me to London so I can ride the Tube, again?

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