Technology Writing

Tasks, transcripts, and semantics

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m spending the rest of the week creating plug-ins that will XHTMLate WordPress. I’m not sure how far I can get with plug-ins, but the end result could be both interesting and useful. I still feel that XHTMLating WordPress is at least partially philosophy, as much as it is code. I can’t seem to communicate this clearly, though, so I am dropping the subject and just focusing on code.

I also have a design for my “Painting the Web” book web site, and need to create a lovely SVG paintbrush, as part of the design. Since my artistic skills are more along the lines of telling a program to draw a line from A to B, the effort may take some time. However, the medium I’m using (SVG) is compatible with my skillset, so perhaps the effort will be trivial and the result good. Better yet, I’ll be able to find a paintbrush at Wikipedia to use.

I did want to point out an interview that Paul Miller of Talis had with Tim Berners-Lee. Unlike most other podcasts, this interview also has a written transcript as well as published show notes. I really wish more video and audio podcasters would spend the time transcribing shows into text, as well as providing more in-depth information about the show than posting a video window and telling people, “Hey! Cool Stuff!” In the meantime, I’m going to watch this podcast via my Apple TV, since the Talis series is also listed at iTunes. I wonder if it’s in HD? (Later: oops! It’s not in video. Darn. I was looking forward to seeing Sir Tim in HD.)

In the write-up on the interview, Miller wrote:

We talked for a fascinating hour during which we ranged from past to future, from technology to policy. We covered specifications such as RDF and SPARQL, and we talked about the pressing need for more accessible texts to explain the Semantic Web to mainstream business.

My book, “Practical RDF”, is out of date, and I and my editor have been talking about a new edition. However, a new edition would not be focused entirely on RDF, and probably wouldn’t cover certain aspects of RDF, in order to be a bit more comprehensive. RDF doesn’t function alone in the world, and a book that covers semantic web technologies needs to cover not only RDF, but also all the complementary technologies. This, in addition to the new tools, data initiatives, and companies.

Now is actually a rather exciting time to be creating a new edition of a book on semantic web technologies. I remember when I wrote “Practical RDF”, which was published before the final release of the RDF specification, I had to stretch a bit to find tools and technologies focused on RDF and/or the semantic web. Now, the semantic web is hip, and the challenge is less on finding good material and more on ensuring that the book isn’t too big, or covers too much.

I don’t think the new edition will be called the same, but we’ll be keeping the “Practical” in the title in some way. Maybe something along the lines of “Practical Semantic Web”. I am nothing if not a practical person, and the “practical” component of the title will also be the overall theme for the book. However, even with this constraint I visualize a book bursting at the seams.

We’re also planning a new edition of Learning JavaScript, too. Unfortunately, the first edition was on a bit of a fast track, and I made mistakes in the book; more than I’d like to see with any of my books. I’ve made corrections via errata, but it will be nice to create a new, updated version.

I’m also helping out with a new edition of a third book, but this would be more along the lines of contributing commentary on organization and some chapters than being sole author.

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