SKUA use cases

The project's core goal is to create a framework for saving and sharing semantically rich state between applications and between users. Put another way, we want to give applications developers the power of RDF and ontologies, without them having to drink the semantic Kool-Aid (which tastes nice, but you never know what's in it...).


Application: tagging

The most basic use of the SKUA network, used by both of the applications below, and most immediately usable by existing user-facing applications, is to allow users to tag and bookmark resources on the web or within the VO, and share those tags with other users. We can do better than simple tagging, however, since a tagging application can make use of the semantic context available from the nodes to suggest and interpret tags both when tagging and when querying. At least one existing VO application uses a private tagging framework, demonstrating that the demand is present.

Application support: commenting

Help applications help users say this paper is rubbish or this paper is great: read this one next!, or otherwise add tags in the style of or Flickr.

This brings in issues to do with provenance, reliability and privacy. It's a can of worms in general, but simple cases should be simple.

Application: Spacebook

As the name suggests, Spacebook has an interface and (liberal) sharing model styled on the very successful social software application, Facebook. In the case of Spacebook, though, individuals will be able to create and share queries, workflows and assertions about VO resources, in addition to supporting a professional/ social network. In this, Spacebook will be a type of Virtual Research Environment (VRE) with additional semantic functionality. The VRE aspect will include portlets which embed components from the AstroGrid VO project. Analogously with Facebook, Spacebook will have the concepts of Person, Institute, Group and Project Institute membership keyed to a user’s institutional email address. Individual users may create Groups, and Spacebook administrators may create Projects.

Application: Suggestions server

A continuing problem within the VO is that of browsing or searching the existing registries for resources of interest, since the obvious ways of doing this produce either too few, or far too many hits. The situation is improving with the arrival of better interfaces, but the semantically rich information available within the SKUA network would allow for richer query support. We have preliminary designs for a ‘suggestions server’, acting as a web service, which would take a list of one or more resources of interest, and return other sets of resources related to the initial ones by an open-ended set of algorithms, using semantic relationships, connections to existing astronomical controlled vocabularies, and statistical cluster analysis, implemented as plugins to the server.

User stories

We will be using a variant of the Extreme Programming (XP) methodology to implement SKUA. That depends on us generating a stream of user stories to implement. You can see an account of our process, and the current list of user stories on the SKUA wiki. If you can think of any stories to add here, do get in touch!