Linked Data and the Semantic Web

Knowledge Byproducts #

When I took Building a Second Brain, one of the concepts was “knowledge byproducts.” The idea that as you’re doing your work, you’re creating things that could be useful later on in a different project. #

I decided that what I’d like to do is find a way to use my website to work (and think) in public and use technology under the hood to help surface connections and themes that I might not have identified otherwise. #

Roam #

One tool that was popular with members of my cohort was Roam. #

Roam is a knowledge management system that is an outliner wiki built on a graph database. You write content on different pages, and as you write, there are conventions for tagging keywords. #

There are then ways to view these keywords and see what other content links to them, a concept that is common with wikis. #

Zettelkasten #

One method of notetaking that has become popular, especially with Roam, is the Zettelkasten Method. #

Niklas Luhmann was a highly productive social scientist who collected notes on index cards. He tagged them so that individual notes linked to other notes. He kept these notes in a giant card catalog. #

My Website #

I was hoping to combine these ideas into the CMS underlying my website. I write all my content in an outliner, and this makes for a very fluid writing experience. Each node in the outline is part of a hierarchy and can have arbitrary attributes associated with the text. #

Each page of my site is built from a combination of structure and attribute metadata. #

I want to build in the wiki-like functionality from Roam to tag content as I’m writing it and link it to tag/topic pages. These pages can have original content (see Progressive Summarization) as well as automatically generated backlinks. #

The Semantic Web #

In The Symbol Management Problem Dorian talks about using RDFa with special vocabularies to represent metadata about the links between content. #

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IBIS Prototype Demo #

My Vision #

Perhaps, as I’m writing in my outline for my daily posts, I can link to subjects in a way that specifies the relationship between what I’m writing and the topic. #

For instance, in the IBIS demo, an object “responds to,” is "supported by", or is “questioned by” a subject. This metadata can be used by the CMS when assembling backlinks on a wiki page. This way, instead of just seeing random backlinks, there is context, and the CMS can group the various contexts appropriately. #

Likewise, when a note references multiple topics, it can create contextual relationships between those topics. #

Next Steps #

Dorian has sent me some follow-up links to review. By putting my thoughts together in this post, I can share this with him, and he might have more ideas of how I can apply his concepts. #

The first version of my wiki linking will hopefully be live soon. Ideally, leveraging metadata to do something unique. #

Published by Andrew Shell on and last updated .