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.

 

WordLift: a THING that MAKES us SMART

WordLift: a THING that MAKES us SMART

The title of this post is taken from Donald Norman‘s book “Things that Make Us Smart.”
thingsDonald Norman is a guru for all designers since his definition of human centered design, which explained how design can make people happier. Here is the link to one of his short presentations from TED in 2003.

Norman is also known to the public for books and manuals such as “The Design of Everyday Things,” which was perfectly summarized by a funny occurrence in Rome in a bus of the city transportation system.
Talking about “Things that make us smart“, Norman classifies humans in 3 categories:

 

  • Those who build artifacts;
  • Those who use them;
  • Those who observe: the sky surrounding the earth, the events, human behaviours etc.

It’s a flow that has shaped the funnel of human evolution: BUILD – USE – OBSERVE and vice-versa; these three attitudes follow each other in a recurrent, never ending process: for example, from the observation of how something is made or used, new ideas/products arise.
WordLift allows you to reproduce the virtuous funnel BUILD – USE – OBSERVE when creating content for your website. WordLift is a semantic web organizer, a new product for all bloggers that publish content on the web through the CMS WordPress. The software semi-automatically associates a group of metadata that translates all kind of content into a language read by machines, with the aim to increase the visibility of the information given to users and to make it easier to find it. WordLift allows you to BUILD the metadata of your content, USE them to increase its value, and OBSERVE the results to find new angles and new directions for your website and editorial plan.
WordLift is the result of over 10 years of “research and development”, applied to two EU funded research projects (IKS and MICO) by a team that since 1998 has:

  • BUILT platforms and web systems for users;
  • USED the web to satisfy curiosity and professional demands;
  • OBSERVED technology and the evolution of the web since its birth.

WordLift is a technology that allows you to classify information: a knowledge organizer. The design approach that has informed its production stages is a derivative of Ergonomics, the discipline that studies the interaction between a system and its users.
WordLift classifies information to build and run dataset open (compatible with the LoD cloud), just the same way genes that make up the DNA give instructions to build and run our organism.

Classifications help us finding the things we are looking for. Classification systems are useful to organize knowledge as well. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, an Indian mathematician, introduced the fundamental categories of classification back in the first half of ‘900, identifying the ones valid for all disciplines:

  • Space and time, on which everyone agrees;
  • Energy, referring to activity or dynamism which in the field of semantics is the “agent that takes an action”;
  • Matter, typical of a material or its properties;
  • Personas to point out the main object of the context even in the cases when no human beings are involved.

They are almost identical, to the 5 Ws used in marketing or the 4Ws typical of content organization categories: Who, Where, When, What. These categories have been considered abstract until the emergence of new sciences such as Neurobiology, that introduced the models and patterns used by our brain to build up our memories and everything else we keep in our minds.
Once installed, WordLift connects directly to Schema.org, a vocabulary of concepts, widely used all over the web and made up of more than 1200 items collected in 9 essential categories: Action, Creative Work, Event, Intangible, Medical Entity, Organization, Person, Place, Product.
Those categories are grouped by the plugin to the 4Ws as followed:

  • WhoPerson, Organization, Local Business
  • WherePlace
  • WhenEvent
  • WhatCreative Work, Thing

designA component of the software reads the content and automatically extracts concepts (Person, Organization, Local Business, Place, Event, Creative Work, Thing) attributable to the 4W from the text. The user has the option to add more concepts to those suggested by the application and to create its own internal vocabulary building his/her own sector’s wikipedia.
To check out how the plugin works you can watch the tutorial videos.

If all content on the web was published with this kind of technology, even the most unobtainable and beautiful objects would be part of one catalogue (or dataset), therefore findable, like a universal version or the “Catalogue of Unobtainable Objects” by Jacques Carelman, mentioned in the magazine Cosebelle.
The editors of Cosebelle magazine using WordLift would have the possibility to build their own vocabulary and open dataset across all the things and themes they deal with.
A dataset of beautiful things, of course, accessible, visible and understandable both by users and machines without stressing too much with search optimisation tasks.

Increasing both ranking and visibility of online content, while retaining the ownership of the data produced, is by no means a secondary goals for any web content creator: these are the goals pursued during all the stages of WordLift construction.
If you have been following Annamaria Testa’s blog from the very beginning, you already know it all about the theories and best practices of everyday-creativity.

Over time the blog has constantly increased its audience. Surely by virtue of the quality of its content which, if I had to define in just one word, I would say: exhaustive. It takes quality and experience to satisfy expectations year after year. It takes good writing, great titles, depth of content. Everything in the right place. If their posts were also published with the semantic web organizer WordLift, their vast content would be organized as in a digital library: becoming more accessible, and further increasing its value.

WordLift is one thing that makes us smart!

In the shadow of Anulu

In the shadow of Anulu

It’s been a surreal August 2016; assuming surreality exists. It’s been decades since the disclosure of techniques about imagination: customs and traditions of the mind to shape our personal worlds and build positive events for ourselves. But given the success among people of visual by-products, we can state that there is no difference between reality and surreality. A notorious thinker, associating true/false (maybe Nietzsche) once said: truth doesn’t exist, reality is perception. And the creative ones, of point of views, don’t they appear surreal at the eyes of others when they are shared? Acceptable visions, as most people call them, but it’s not what I see!

A month ago, July 2016, there was a little group of children near the place where I’m writing from, and the grown-ups, parents or not, getting close to each other (I’m not sure why) were asking themselves: what will they write in their back-to-school essay assignment titled “what did you do during the holidays?”. They were feeling that the situation was getting out of hand and becoming irrational already, just a few days into their summer break.

Finally a summer of un-named stars, of clouds passing by that don’t resemble anything, of tired weather forecasts, of stories, encounters and clashes handled with the energy of a sloth. As always, there were daily ritual confrontations though: both verbal and physical.

We are at the beach, it used to be more isolated before. It gathers random people, locals and foreigners. A cabin is the collection point; built to be good, homey. Its shadow offers some relief to its guests. Near and around more modern shelters and a trivial space dedicated to fire, during a month, August, always above 30°, including at night.

Besides the “passers-by”, at the cabin there are a few usuals: sorcio, rana, and paperello. The usuals sweep, embellish, order and scrutinize, far and close; once everything is calm, they entertain themselves and the passers-by.

Paperello, right on August 1st, from a palm trunk brought there by the sea, created ANÙLU, baptizing the first pagan totem in the area. He built a pedestal and a core to erect it, and positioned it looking east, between the cabin and the sea. Immediately the environment turned into a space, the beginning of a human recognizable order, an explosive un-directional zone typical of the first post-caveman’s villages. Flies arrived soon-after, for duty to report. Meanwhile, someone started talking about the “God ANULU”. Exaggerating: there is always a cult and someone who overreacts. But it is a known fact that the shoreline is also a path for pilgrimages: from morning to evening, young and old, back and forth. People started noticing and stopping by. Coming back the following day with their smartphones for the unmissable selfie, laughing unaware.

At the end of August someone dared to say that 3000 selfies had been taken, with the help from MANITA, another pagan totem, newer, embossed on another piece of palm trunk with the help of Rana. Without pedestal this time, it is self-standing. About the relationship between the totems, rumor has MANITA as the daughter of ANULU.

Anulu Beach | WordLiftThe cabin upstream, the sea in front, the father totem in the right half, the daughter totem closer to the sea in the left half, they marked together the free path, street or square toward fresh reliefs. This is where everything happened.

In a context like this, different manifestations of the matter can appearo: hot, competitive, airy, spiritual, almost esoteric; but always real. Many of them look like they just stepped out of the Peanuts, including the dazed observing dog; or read in Alan Ford, a comic about secret agents that became famous with number 26, when the alcoholic menace “Superciuk” showed up; or out of Castaneda’s books, where evening and nocturnal discussions were anticipated by him saying that there are not two separate worlds, two different realities, a normal world and a paranormal world… but only one world, that you can “look at” or “see”; or out of Tex Willer, wise navajos leader, eagle of the night – a legend; or resembling other comic characters, like Poldo Sbaffini (Popeye), trickster, flatterer, eternally hungry and hamburger craver; or Bongo the gorilla (from the Italian comic Nonna Abelarda), which communicated with sentences written on banners instead of the classic cloud. Fumettologica.it’s blog posted at the end of August the latest cover of Zagor-te-nai, the spirit with the Hatchet. Rana dared to feel and describe himself as Zagor, and dared also to say it out loud. There were a few Indians here and there; maybe that’s what confused him. In a few words, normal people from real life, characters of a bigger story. 

Il bar sotto il mare Stefano Benni | WordLiftIt was like reading a book titled “The cabin on the sea”, something like Il bar sotto il mare, by Stefano Benni, “where everything can happen…where all of us want to be”.

You might not believe me, I know. We spend half of our life laughing at other people’s beliefs and the other half believing in what other people laugh at. I often read the blog Scratchbook.net, where Maria De Biase tells us of books, authors and characters playing between truth and fiction. In one of her latest post, she introduced Nausea by J.P. Sartre, and the difference between what’s internal and what’s external in a context made of an absurd life. While I was reading the post, father ANULU and daughter MANITA were still there: enclosing, observing and protecting their space and whoever came to do daily ablutions. Passers-by were increasingly intrigued by the religious paganism of the situation.

Today is the last day of August 2016; at the cabin there is only a woman wearing a mask, who dove to look for heart-shaped stones. She gathers and collects them. Will she classify them? Will there be an order understood by both machines and people to collect heart-shaped stones?

A Japanese writer, Marie Kondo, known for her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” suggests a method to organize our life organizing our surroundings. Following a similar approach, if you write a blog and you want to share your passions, you should re-organize your blog into an open dataset, adding a classification system to your personal diary, enhancing the value of your thoughts, your attentions and the objects you care about. For example, if you write a deep study in your blog about the world of comic books, those should be classified and organized in open datasets and presented to the web and to readers according to how machines, search engines and our personal memory work, making it easier for our comic books to be found and read.

If your blog is on WordPress, you can download the plug-in WordLift and it will take care of this task for you. WordLift is a web organizer for professional online publishers, that automatically makes your diary (blog), and all the emotions, interests, pictures, memories, hobbies, advices it contains, as well as your life, accessible to machines, search engines and people.

WordLift is the best solution to rearrange our digital expressions, to make them readable and sharable, associating them to similar content. To do so it follows the same schemes our mind uses to build our memories and classify our knowledge and the same classification models used by common knowledge platforms such as Google and Wikipedia. It could classify and further enhance our comic’s characters and superheros, attaching to them a layer of metadata answering the following questions: where? …  when? …  who? … what is it? … what is it connected to? … what deepens it? … building the quintessential network of comics any comic book publisher dreams about.

P.S.: the nickname Sorcio, Rana e Paperello (and several of the non-quoted passers-by) are taken from the series pupazzocriminale.it.

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