Nepomuk – The Social Semantic Framework
Looking for Sponsorship
For the past years the Nepomuk project has been funded by one company – first as a research project that was part of a much larger scale European one [nepomuk.semanticdesktop.org] – later as a KDE open-source project with big potential. Being in financial distress (not related to Nepomuk) this company’s support for Nepomuk needs replacement.
The technologies developed in Nepomuk, the ideas behind the semantic desktop (or should it rather be called “semantic personal computing”) are what will shape the future of software and software systems. This is a trend that started in the web – see social networks which are the most prominent example of the exposure of the semantic web or “Web 2.0” – but eventually will find its way to the desktop and mobile devices as well.
As such investing in a technology like Nepomuk means investing in the future. It also means to be one step ahead of the competition. No other system is as close to providing a new experience for the user which allows to navigate and manage personal data more like the brain does, not restricted by physical constraints. Nepomuk has the potential to provide the advantage over the competition which is required to gain ground in the personal and mobile computing area.
Nepomuk aims to change the way we handle data on the computer today. Instead of navigating big hierarchies in file browsers or email clients the idea is to create one big graph of relations between resources (files, emails, people, projects, tasks, web pages, ideas, and so on) which is then navigated. In addition usage statistics and information from the web enrich this graph of information allowing the creation of powerful clients that always provide the correct information for the current context.
All this information is stored in one RDF database on the local system using a set of vocabularies [oscaf.sf.net] which are developed as an open-source project, too.
Currently Nepomuk comes as part of KDE and provides a service-oriented framework and a set of APIs. It contains services for file indexing, file system monitoring, querying, and backup. It also contains APIs to write and read information from the database.
Relation to Qt
Nepomuk is built upon Qt and KDE. It can make a real difference on both desktop and mobile devices by providing something really new and innovative. The recent release of Plasma Active One [kde.org] which heavily builds on top of Nepomuk shows its potential on mobile devices.
One thing is important to note: Although Nepomuk is developed as a KDE project it is not restricted to KDE. Most of what Nepomuk provides today consists of runtime components and APIs which are usable with any user interface. This is even more true for the ideas and concepts that stand behind it which are completely independent of any system or form factor.
The Nepomuk core developer community is rather small. This is due to the complexity of the project and the ideas behind it. However, more and more application developer pick up Nepomuk to integrate semantic technology into their tools.
Sebastian Trueg’s recent fundraiser [pledgie.com] shows the interest people have in Nepomuk. Many users and developers actually see where it is going and how it can change and shape the way we manage our personal information every day. This can be seen in the many positive comments on Sebatian’s blog entries. Specific developer comments on the dot article [dot.kde.org] made this even clearer.
Short term goals include
- Performance improvements throughout the system.
- A semantic file save dialog [trueg.wordpress.com] which allows to directly create the required relations and annotations when saving a file.
- A central resource browsing tool which is entirely built on search in combination with faceted browsing [en.wikipedia.org].
Long term goals include a deeper integration with existing applications and if possible a total coverage of all file operations hiding any classical hierarchies.
Apart from the file handling the goal is to handle all sorts of information the same way: projects, tasks, emails, people, web links, and so on can be related to one another, can be annotated, and can build the graph which shapes our daily work.
Funding the Nepomuk project means to fund the work of Nepomuk’s maintainer and core developer Sebastian Trueg directly. This could be achieved through a contract covering a certain number of hours of work per month or an actual position at Nokia which would allow Sebastian to continue his work on Nepomuk at least part-time.