Understanding OpenCalais...through Twitter

Learning about OpenCalais...from Twitter.

The power of Twitter arises from spontaneous, ad-hoc, and asynchronous communication. It can be very useful when you have a general question and have no idea to whom you should direct it.

Take, for example, a question I had about the OpenCalais project, which I wrote about last year but which I have struggled to understand. Yesterday I asked for feedback on what OpenCalais actually does, given that Reuters just announced the 4.0 version of the project, but I never really came to grips with OpenCalais 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0.

Throwing out the question - "What is OpenCalais?" - returned a range of answers which helped give a great idea of what OpenCalais is all about.

John Newton, co-founder and CTO of Alfresco (and a colleague of mine), gave the most succinct answer:

Calais is probably the first of many open content services on the web. Service rather than site.

Consider it automatic tagging as a web service. Uses linguistic analysis and probably the relationship to other docs.

But others were also great, including this one from the lead on the Calais Initiative team:

OpenCalais: Send Text. Get back Semantic Metadata. That's linked to the Linked Data cloud. Text > Super Enhanced Text. Then go wild. (Tom Tague, Thomson Reuters and the Calais Initiative)

Others included:

OpenCalais is for 'semantic web', basically tagging on steroids. (Perry Ismangil, Co-founder of Teluu)

I haven't looked at it very deeply, but I *think* OpenCalais provides an API to make accessing and referencing linked data very easy. (Brian Robinson)

So now I (and, hopefully, you) have a better idea of what OpenCalais is, and it only took me two seconds to ask over Twitter. Lesson? OpenCalais is very cool. But so is Twitter.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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