Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The EU's "Interactive Knowledge" project

Today Sandro Groganz blogged an announcement of a new initiative by the European Union called the "Interactive Knowledge" project. The goal of the project is to promote the latest web standards like CSS3 and RDF (semantic web). They intend to do this by giving out grants to small CMS vendors and adopters to support these standards.

This program could have a huge impact on those open source projects that focus on standards and bringing the web to the next level. In Dries Buytaert's Drupalcon keynote, he made specific reference to how RDF can give Drupal the opportunity "to build a graph that connects everything" (see my notes). There are number of open source projects that are already walking the walk when it comes to standards: Plone (WCAG), Alfresco (JSR 170), Hippo (WebDAV and soon JSR 170), and Jahia (JSR 168) all place a high value on supporting standards. Some commercial vendors like Day Software have also made huge contributions in developing standards but it is less common for them to take the lead and drive (like Day has).

Waiting for customers of commercial CMS products to demand RDF has not broken the chicken and egg impasse that holds back widespread adoption of these technologies. There is no pressure to implement RDF and microformats if no one is using browsers and services that leverage this information. No one develops technologies to leverage this information if it is not widely available. Targeting smaller CMS products with money that is meaningful to them seems like a good way to seed the long tail of the Internet with a movement that will get the interest of the larger players. Remember, the big CMS vendors were the last ones to get RSS.

If you are interested, please send an email to Wolfgang Maass (wolfgang dot maass at hs-furtwangen dot de) no later than this Thursday, March 20th, 2008. A little more lead time would have helped but I am sure that if you contact him with your interest, you can get your foot in the door.