InterDataNet

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InterDataNet is both a project and a vision. Its main goals are:

  1. Deal with Web of data (content) rather than Web of Data (concepts)
  2. Realize the infrastructure technology for a uniform write-able Web of data.
  3. Enrich data with cooperative attributes (licensing, provenance, consistency, security, privacy, availability and history).


Contents

En Easy Example: a Letter from Melissa

My name is Melissa, and this is my first blog post. New life, new blog. This blog starts with a frustration.

THE WEB IS NOT DONE RIGHT.

Because it doesn’t help to make life any easier as you’ll see from the real problem I am going to describe.

I am a French citizen and live in Switzerland where I have just moved after the signature of the contract for my new job. I am almost drowning in the bureaucracy!!. Once I arrived in Switzerland I had the secret (and perhaps naïve) hope of starting my job (which, btw, is in the domain of Life Science research)…. instead I have been overwhelmed with bureaucratic formalities in order to be able to start LIVING in this beautiful country: residence and work permits, birth certificates, medical certificates to enroll my son in the local elementary school, social security services (pensions, health insurance, etc.)!. And this is just a small list of what I have really done. On top of this – a bit discouraged though pleased by the Swiss efficiency – I had to follow-up the process of activating a bank account services, of course!

For each of the services above I spent entire days far form my beloved research duties, to complete a lot of formalities, engaging in more or less productive F2F interactions, producing or requesting proofs of documents and data, and so on and so forth.

This is a frustration, but it is also a concern as a scientist. Why does this Web not help me in doing all these as I need them?? I am quite sure that the Web-people, I mean the Web Scientists, are working to make the Web evolve, but how close in time is that future Web?

Melissa’s blog post highlights the problem of Web-based information management and data interoperability in complex, distributed environments characterized by strong organizational and technological heterogeneity. Melissa needs to collaborate with other subjects on data contained in documents, according to defined rules/processes in a coordinated effort to solve a problem and/or accomplish a task: e.g., opening a bank account. Melissa would greatly benefit from a Web in which it is possible for her and for her interacting parties (public administrations, local to international government services, businesses, etc...) to collaboratively manage data without any knowledge about its physical location in the distributed environment, while at the same time relying on data and document qualities such as licensing, provenance, consistency, security, privacy, availability, and history.

How The InterDataNet Would Help Melissa

In the Web of data enabled by the InterDataNet, documents can contain (aggregate) data coming from different (authority) sources. Documents are the containers, data are the content. The same content can be contained in different containers, much like Melissa’s “address” in the host country can be contained both in the residence certificate as well as in her request for a bank account. What we would like to be able to do is allow different subjects involved in the imaginary Melissa case study (Melissa, the bank accountant, etc.) to collaborate around the data unit “Melissa’s address”, doing the following things in a heterogeneous distributed environment:

  • create a data unit named "Melissa’s address" at a local level
  • publish it on the Web of data using a global reference identifier so that authorized others can discover and use it
  • assign it a set of collaboration-oriented properties (who can access it, under which conditions, etc.)
  • reuse it when needed and only if authorized in other data containers (documents) such as the bank account request form
  • republish the newly generated documents, and provide them with the appropriate access rules
  • maintain the link to the original “address” data unit in order for it to automatically track possible changes when Melissa changes her residence (i.e. automatically update Melissa’s bank account document when she changes residence).

Towards a Cooperative Web of data

InterDataNet aims at providing new technologies and methods to enable the Web of data growth. To this end, we define a set of abstract Grounding Principles aimed at providing the general characteristics and principles of the information to be managed and does not aim at providing any technical solution whatsoever to the problem.

Defining The Grounding Principles

Principle 1: Container-Content

Documents are containers while data and metadata are theirs content. Data are relevant as well as the structure in which they are used. Structuring documents, is not a novelty in the information management domain; it is a consequence of the need of a deeper granularity in information management than the document level. This principle asserts that attention should be paid not only to the data unit in itself but also to the container (structure) which contains it. The principle Container-Content highlights the need of granularity in data management to allow more effective collaboration between humans.

Principle 2: Global Identifiers

Each data is assigned identifiers through a global Web-based naming and reference mechanism. Both containers and contents (i.e. documents and data) have one or more names which can work either at a local or a global level. At the moment of the creation a document/data has a local name, which becomes a global name once the author decides to assign to it a visibility property to given sets of users (e.g. single user, specified group(s), public). This principle asserts that each piece of information is assigned at least a global identifier and that such identifier is managed by the user who decides its visibility at a local (private) or global (published) scale. The principle Global ID highlights the need to manage data units name to allow collaboration between humans.

Principle 3: Cooperation

Data are endowed with a set of cooperation-oriented metadata/attributes such as authorship, property, specific provenance, etc. The third principle asserts that information has to be enriched with a set of metadata enabling cooperative data reuse. The principle Cooperation implies that cooperation-enabled data provide the ground for collaboration between humans.

The InterDataNet Information Model And Service Architecture

The InterDataNet architectural will cope with two main requirements: the information has to be modeled to account for document-data relation and to enable collaboration/cooperation; the related service architecture will handle the modeled information according to the requirements above. InterDataNet framework [1] is a conceptual infrastructural solution supporting a decentralized and scalable publication space for interlinked data. IDN architecture sustains global addressability of resources as well as basic collaborative oriented services (authorship control, versioning and replica management) for distributed and heterogeneous structured data management thus allowing the needed consistent reuse and mapping of data identifiers. IDN framework is described through the ensemble of concepts, models and technologies pertaining to the following two views:

  1. IDN-IM (InterDataNet Information Model). It is the shared information model representing a generic document model which is independent from specific contexts and technologies. It defines the requirements, desirable properties, principles and structure of the document to be managed by IDN.
  2. IDN-SA (InterDataNet Service Architecture). It is the architectural layered model handling IDN-IM documents (it manages the IDN-IM concrete instances allowing the users to “act” on pieces of information and documents). The IDN-SA implements the reference functionalities defining subsystems, protocols and interfaces for IDN document collaborative management. The IDN-SA exposes an IDN-API (Application Programming Interface) on top of which IDN-compliant Applications can be developed.

IDN-IM is designed to satisfy the Grounding Principles 1-2-3 and the IDN-Service Architecture is designed to handle such Information Model accordingly.

IDN And The Principles

The IDN-Information Model fulfils the first Grounding Principle – Container-Content - because its leverages on the IDN-Node – the abstract structure that has been defined to describe the information managed within the IDN environment. The IDN-Node is essentially a set of data and metadata. The definition of a structure scheme for the IDN-Node allows pursuing its automatic manipulability. IDN fulfils what it is also requested in the third principle -Cooperation- which calls for specific metadata within, to provide a set of needed features in a collaborative context.

The InterDataNet approach fulfils also the second principle - Global ID - because it adopts HTTP-URIs as IDN-Nodes’ identifiers. This choice is strategic to preserve the compliance with the one of the Web of Data/Linked Data approach. The third principle – Cooperation - states that IDN should provide data with a set of attributes to support cooperation-oriented features to enable human collaboration. Cooperation capability is allowed by a proper specification of the IDN-Information Model and its related management by the service architecture. By construction, the IDN architecture enables the following cooperation-oriented properties:

  • data reuse, thanks to the read-write capability allowed by the Virtual Repository Layer
  • local/global data addressability, as a consequence of use of URIs in the naming conventions
  • provenance, as a consequence of the IDN three-layers naming system
  • consistency, as a consequence of the strong coupling between the unique PRI name and the LRI names
  • versioning; thanks to the History Layer in the IDN-SA
  • replica management; thanks to the Replica Management Layer in the IDN-SA
  • heterogeneous and distributed data integration; thanks to the Storage Interface Layer in the IDN-SA.

See Also

References

  • [1] Pettenati, M.C., Innocenti, S., Chini, D., Parlanti D. & Pirri, F., (2008). Interdatanet: A Data Web Foundation For The Semantic Web Vision, Iadis International Journal On WWW/Internet Vol.6 Issue 2.
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