Semantic Wikis and Faceted Browsing: The Ultimate Knowledge Database
Every 6 months or so I mix things up and alternate my primary area of focus between studying philosophy and pursuing my creative technical interests (e.g. my multitude of pet/geek projects). I decided to switch gears a couple weeks ago and have been back into academic mode. My primary focus has been studying the history of philosophy; notable figures, major schools of thought, etc. I’ve also been creating a series of detailed mindmaps based on this research and hope to share those sometime next month.
Over the last 6 months much of my time and writing has been focusing on learning and personal knowledge management. So, it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to blend my interests in learning, technology, and philosophy. I’ve been using the Semantic MediaWiki for the past few months as my Personal Knowledge Manager and just recently started adding my own semantic data for major philosophers (date of birth, place of birth, influences, influenced by, school of thought).
I figured it would be uber cool (and geeky) to be able to query this type of metadata and aggregate it in the hopes of seeing new patterns. At a high level, here is what I’d like to do:
* View all philosophers on a timeline broken down by date and time period (Ancient Greek, Early Christian, Dark Ages, Modern, Post Modern, etc). Something like http://radicalacademy.com/diahistphil.htm.
* Map of philosophers based on place of birth, origin of school, or place of death.
* Graphical representation of lineage of influences by philosophers. This is somewhat similar to The Genealogy of Influence I posted about last year.
In theory, this sounds very cool but could get complicated pretty fast. Luckily there are some great projects like Simile at MIT that solve some interesting problem domains. One particular subproject called Exhibit offers many of these features. I would just need to find a way to export my philosophy wiki data as RDF (which I believe it currently does) and reformat to JSON. This will definitely get some priority on my existing Pet Project Queue More to follow later……