The Yoga of Revolution: Meditation and Semantic Web United

The Yoga of Revolution: Meditation and Semantic Web United

A journey into the world of Yoga and meditation, how they bring us back to basics and how to apply them to the world of digital content writing.

Back To The Future

The year is 2030.

“Hey! Did you try it as a kid?” “Yes, I must admit! I tried it once but I inhaled without using the diaphragm! So I guess it doesn’t count!”

One could think that it is just a normal conversation between grown-ups discussing cannabis, but in fact it is about meditation and yoga and how we figure out it will be something so common and evolving that we will refer to it as an experience rather than an activity.
“Yoga and laughing have helped defeating the frequent stress that worried past generations”, slogan will read.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Yoga?
Probably good posture, relaxation and mental order.

In a certain way, Yoga and meditation are also about ordering thoughts and perceptions, focusing on what matters and melting away all the unuseful stuff we have to deal with everyday and which often causes anxieties. It’s like going back to basics, holding on to our essence of human beings.
So what should be a good architecture for a website or a blog about Yoga to express this mindset? This gain of awareness and order that follows a session of Yoga should also be reproduced in a website whose main focus is to talk about the practice and deliver it to newbies. For example, in the blog section of the website Yoga della Risata, posts and events are only listed in chronological order, as blogs used to do in the past; it can definetely produce a lot of stress when trying to decode the content instead of being the other way round. 🙂

Laugh Your Head Off

We don’t laugh enough and self-irony is not fashionable nowadays, maybe we take ourselves too seriously and there is this recurring feeling that laughing won’t let us focus on our objectives in life.
When we think about it, a spontaneous laughter may mostly occur when something unexpected happens: like a friend stumbling on the street or someone makes a joke. This is even more true when you realize that it is practically impossible to laugh without an event provoking the laughter.
Most people are unaware that laughing is also a meditation technique: laughter meditation is a proper way to feel better and positive and like other techniques it is proven to boost the immune system, lower stress and aid digestion. Try for yourself, all you have to do is just laugh on an empty stomach!

Order And Meditation

As proven above, meditation has faceted meanings, they go from think about it to forget it to just laugh yourself out. Considering the extensive production of books, courses, events and websites on the matter we must assume that meditation does work: it frees our minds from useless attentions and makes us happier.
Everyone is unique and uniquely follows its path, the number of meditations is at least the same as the number of individuals ever appeared on our planet. This means they are supposed to grow.
Moreover if we take for granted that nothing and no one exist autonomously and independently, as the following article implies (link in Italian) there must be something that connects all diversity, dots that connect all the paths. The article is taken from Meditare.net a website that promotes and introduces books about the mind and meditation to users, but not only that.

In the summary of the twin website Meditare.it,  we can scroll a classification of content in alphabetical order: each section of content has plenty of internal posts that resemble a simple digital encyclopedia of meditation.

To be so this content should be organized and delivered to users. It would be great if every site could provide its users with an internal encyclopedia of concepts organized in such a way that nothing goes unread or is unclear to the reader.
Truth is that when users visit websites the principle of serendipity often applies: you’re looking for something but there comes a link to some other article that makes you curious, this casual intuition is also celebrated in this blogpost (link in Italian). Surely, a lot of good things in life are unexpected and unpredictable but a website really shouldn’t be!
This confusion is generated by a lack of standardization of semantic languages, which has been proposed by schema.org  and DBpedia. The semantic web gives us the immense opportunity to adopt a language in form of metadata, that can be readable both by humans and machines. That is order! Imagine to have the opportunity to associate each type of yoga practice to a certain style and position and make it understandable and searchable by everyone, be it person or computer.

Connect the dots

The image is taken from the website CoseperCrescere.it

Start The Revolution!

When using structured content it is easier to find what you’re looking for, as content is organized and linked to other relevant and related content.
TaoRoma is the blog of an association whose goal is to promote and introduce martial and taoist arts into our hectic daily life.
Using WordLift they have structured the content of their blog, just so that it does what they created it for: showing organized content that would be relevant to readers. While creating and taking care of entities they have built their own encyclopedia. And it works just great!
When creating entities for anatomical parts of the body WordLift has attached and connected to every entity the data provided by DBpedia. In our case, every entity was marked with an rdf:type Anatomical Structure (here you can find DBpedia’s ontology). This classification can be used in many ways, as it gives the possibility to create personalized menus on the website, implementing a bot etc.

Below is the query SPARQL that makes TaoRoma’s blog easier to browse and the list of results of the related entities: a lot of different ways to find and read content. In fact, with this query we can easily find all the entities that are marked as Anatomical Structure on the blog. The content is structured with metadata that WordLift learned from open encyclopedias, like DBpedia, in our case.

SELECT ?s WHERE { ?s a <http://dbpedia.org/ontology/AnatomicalStructure> }

Here we are asking (with the help of DBpedia) give me all the “things” that are Anatomical Structure on the website

Query Yoga Entities

If we want to face the changes that the web is going through, we have to start using a technical language that can be automatically attached to content; a language of metadata in which there are no terms that can’t be read both from humans and machines. A language composed of concrete words, univocally recognizable.
When publishing content on your WordPress website you will automatically communicate to machines and humans that the triangle position is a basic position, which style it is and its origins and if it can be part of yoga therapy.

We can face the confusion on the web, we can change the implications of search engines and of users that follow their rules; we have to let go of abstract languages that bind our communication in a billion of tags and relations, but we must do it all laughing. ?  We can trace a new path without waiting for the internet to change, we can start the revolution using a software like WordLift.

The Language of Numbers or The Number of Languages?

The Language of Numbers or The Number of Languages?

Numbers date back to the dawn of the human species, the need for humans to associate a quantity to a symbol has allowed us and our thinking to grow exponentially (literally!). 

Each one of us has a favourite number. I confess having changed mine several times. Some of us have a more prominent ability in dealing with numbers and languages, while others are fonder of the “arts” intended as drawing, painting, and creating music. These characteristics change also the way we act and reason in our everyday-life. The assumptions above come from the studies that world famous Nobel laureate, Roger Sperry was conducting on the “split brain” and accidentally came to discover that only the left side of the brain can articulate speech but the right part is also capable of a special kind of language, a different one, later described as “creative”. Since then researchers, doctors and psychologists started elaborating theories and studies about the lateralization of the brain functions.   

However, science is unclear if the language of numbers is heritage of the left part of the brain, or if it is equally distributed: odds on the left, evens on the right, zero in the middle.

Zero can play any number, or infinite combinations of numbers, just like the tarot card of The Fool:  the unruly wanderer who has knowledge but doesn’t use it during his journey. The Fool starts a trip through the mysteries of life but without any clear destination or map. He’s free from the set of schemes we have been taught to build for ourselves. Moreover, its card number is… well, zero of course!

The “truth” between the two cerebral hemispheres

Still, it is absurd to imagine sharp divisions between right and left hemispheres. Tlon is a project whose attempt is to unify those hemispheres. Its staff is mainly made up of young people who want to tidy up the Italian cultural landscape integrating academical studies with the holistic, what is concrete with what is unknown; and they have fun organizing events like the University of Philosophy and Imagination. Despite the uncertain source of our ability in “doing the math”, the importance of numbers is undeniable as well as their capacity to express our behaviours and opinions.

The “poetical” value of Big Data 

Giorgia Lupi and Stephanie Posavec: Dear Data

Dear Data – A digital-to-analog project

As absurd as it may seem, statistics and economics have been expressing people’s most hidden sides and thoughts with numbers: from political polls to microeconomics’ theories of how people take decisions.

Journalists and professional bloggers have a growing necessity of using real data to improve the strength of their positions because we all know that numbers never lie and comparing numbers we can understand the real social value of our choices. Real data is available as open data and is published on the web for everyone to elaborate it.

The website  www.truenumbers.it is already stepping towards a futuristic form of journalism, a way of telling facts and stories that is data-driven and reliable. The site reports with real numbers the results of our behaviors, both as individuals and as parts of a collectiveness, and it does so providing graphs and tables along with tools to interpret them.

Graphs and tables date back to the 18th and 19th centuries when scientists and mathematicians found it too difficult to express some important physical problems with elementary functions so they started drawing the data they had elaborated in form of curves and formulas, just the same way our ancestors started drawing quantities that later became the numbers as we know them, using the creative hemisphere of the brain to express what the most analytical side had elaborated.

The blog www.frizzifrizzi.it tells us to check out Dear Data a graphic book by two designers (Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec) that explains the art of expressing facts through data: for one year they have been sending each other postcards from one side of the ocean to another, only “speaking” through freshly invented, and hand-drawn graphic systems. The graphs told the most human and common stories and feelings such as: laughs, decisions taken and goodbyes. The project was a major success and is now a book.

As we write this blog post WordLift is analyzing each word and extracting relevant concepts to create a visible-to-machine data structure that search engines will use to help me connect with you – the reader of these words.

WordLift, for each relevant concept, creates an annotation counting each character I write. Here goes the code:  

          textAnnotation = @createAnnotation({

            start: annotation.start

            end: annotation.end

            text: annotation.label

          })

A number at the beginning and a number the end of each word helps us link this article to 4.0 million “things” and 470 million “facts” that represent “the brain” both left and right of DBpedia (one of the datasets WordLift uses to increase the visibility of this article).

P.S. It was November 8th of 2016 when this article was first written

8 + 11 + 2 + 16 = 37
3 + 7 = 10
0 and 1… it all goes back to nothing and the whole!

P.S. n°2 We’re happy to share with our readers’ community the first drawing of a post card dedicated to this article and in a true Dear Data spirit.

 

JSON-LD – How to use Linked Data for a better User Experience

JSON-LD – How to use Linked Data for a better User Experience

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee published a memo in which he described the former structure of the World Wide Web. The basic idea of this project was to make people able to jump from one document to another whenever someone referred to it in his work. What Tim was aiming at was a system that could help scientists to save the time spent in searching for references and referred papers.

In 2009 the very same guy was invited to attend a TED conference where he suggested the idea of an Internet built on Linked Data (from now on LD).

LD is great for computers and, if presented in the right way, also for humans. LD is basically a set of relationships between data: think about Facebook where every click we make creates a relation between us and something else, like a new friend, a movie, a photo etc. All these relationships generate a huge and detailed network, populated by meaningful links. All these data is accessible and readable by computers thanks to the data-structure that they can get access to.

WordLift uses a format called JSON-LD to allow your data to be readable for machines and converted, analyzed or displayed in third party websites and applications.

LD helps creating accessible content outside a website. Near our office in Rome there is a tailor’s shop called Sartoria Scavelli, they sell bespoke suits and realize high couture tailoring products using the finest fabrics on the market and delivering an impeccable service.

Sartoria ScavelliSartoria Scavelli runs a simple but well organized website, they use WordLift to write blog posts about fine fabrics, seasonal trends and the history of iconic garments (like ties or polo shirts).

Sartoria Scavelli has created an entity on WordLift for the shop and has linked every relevant information to it, so that when someone searches for Sartoria Scavelli on Google Search, a Google Card (Knowledge Graph) appears with every useful information the user needs to locate the shop and know everything about its services and the fabrics used; this happens both because of the information added with WordLift both because the website is powered by Google My Business.

How could the tailor’s shop use the same technique to help his readers have a better experience on their website? They could grab the data created using WordLift and create custom widgets. This is the very same technique used by Google when displaying cards on the side of the search.

In the first days of the Internet there where fewer display options, imagine that custom colours were not even supported, yet. Users had to stick to plain text pages and almost no layout at all. The experience they where facing was almost unfriendly as reading plain code. Thirty years after we can see how much interfaces have changed. The experience offered to users is immersive and tailored for their habits and devices.

Nowadays deliver a tailored user experience to every one, is barely impossible: screen sizes and supported technologies are a Pandora’s box that every front-end engineer have to face. On the other side delivering raw data and letting the device handle the visualization is way more simple than before.

With JSON-LD you can create data visualization tailored to the UX experience you chose for your website, like a suit made by Sartoria Scavelli to fit your shape perfectly. Just take a look for now, we’ll be back soon with another post to tell you how.

Below is the JSON-LD created by WordLift to represent how Linked Data was used to annotate this blogpost. The file can be downloaded from data.wordlift.io.

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