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Ruben Verborgh

Linked Research articles

In the spirit of Linked Research, I try to publish articles in HTML and self-publish them on the Web. The articles below were accepted for conferences or journals after peer review. Your feedback on them is most welcome. Also see my full publication list.

Linked Research articles on this website

Re-decentralizing the Web, for good this time

Linking the World’s Information: A Collection of Essays on the Work of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, 2020

Originally designed as a decentralized ecosystem, the Web has undergone a significant centralization in recent years. In order to regain control over our digital self, over the digital aspects of our lives, we need to understand how we arrived at this point and how we can get back on track. This chapter explains the history of decentralization in a Web context, and details Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continued battle for a free and open Web. The challenges and solutions are not purely technical in nature, but rather fit into a larger socio-economic puzzle, to which all of us are invited to contribute. Let us take back the Web for good, and leverage its full potential as envisioned by its creator.

The Semantic Web identity crisis: in search of the trivialities that never were

Semantic Web Journal, 2020

For a domain with a strong focus on unambiguous identifiers and meaning, the Semantic Web research field itself has a surprisingly ill-defined sense of identity. Started at the end of the 1990s at the intersection of databases, logic, and Web, and influenced along the way by all major tech hypes such as Big Data and machine learning, our research community needs to look in the mirror to understand who we really are. The key question amid all possible directions is pinpointing the important challenges we are uniquely positioned to tackle. In this article, we highlight the community’s unconscious bias toward addressing the Paretonian 80% of problems through research—handwavingly assuming that trivial engineering can solve the remaining 20%. In reality, that overlooked 20% could actually require 80% of the total effort and involve significantly more research than we are inclined to think, because our theoretical experimentation environments are vastly different from the open Web. As it turns out, these formerly neglected “trivialities” might very well harbor those research opportunities that only our community can seize, thereby giving us a clear hint of how we can orient ourselves to maximize our impact on the future. If we are hesitant to step up, more pragmatic minds will gladly reinvent technology for the real world, only covering a fraction of the opportunities we dream of.

Decentralizing the Semantic Web through incentivized collaboration

International Semantic Web Conference: Blue Sky Track, 2018

Personal data is being centralized at an unprecedented scale, and this comes with widely known and far-reaching consequences, considering the recent data scandals with companies such as Equifax and Facebook. Decentralizing personal data storage allows people to take back control of their data, and Semantic Web technologies can facilitate data integration at runtime. However, such data processing over decentralized data requires far more expensive algorithms, while at the same time, less processing power is available in individual stores compared to large-scale data centers. This article presents a vision in which nodes in decentralized networks are incentivized to collaborate on data processing using a distributed ledger. By leveraging the collective processing capacity of all nodes, we can provide a sustainable alternative to the current generation of centralized solutions, and thereby put people back in control without compromising on functionality.

A Web API ecosystem through feature-based reuse

Internet Computing, 2018

The fast-growing Web API landscape brings clients more options than ever before—in theory. In practice, they cannot easily switch between different providers offering similar functionality. We discuss a vision for developing Web APIs based on reuse of interface parts called features. Through the introduction of 5 design principles, we investigate the impact of feature-based reuse on Web APIs. Applying these principles enables a granular reuse of client and server code, documentation, and tools. Together, they can foster a measurable ecosystem with cross-API compatibility, opening the door to a more flexible generation of Web clients.

Piecing the puzzle – Self-publishing queryable research data on the Web

Workshop on Linked Data on the Web, 2017

Publishing research on the Web accompanied by machine-readable data is one of the aims of Linked Research. Merely embedding metadata as RDFa in HTML research articles, however, does not solve the problems of accessing and querying that data. Hence, I created a simple ETL pipeline to extract and enrich Linked Data from my personal website, publishing the result in a queryable way through Triple Pattern Fragments. The pipeline is open source, uses existing ontologies, and can be adapted to other websites. In this article, I discuss this pipeline, the resulting data, and its possibilities for query evaluation on the Web. More than 35,000 RDF triples of my data are queryable, even with federated SPARQL queries because of links to external datasets. This proves that researchers do not need to depend on centralized repositories for readily accessible (meta-)data, but instead can—and should—take matters into their own hands.

Your JSON is not my JSON – A case for more fine-grained content negotiation

Workshop on Smart Descriptions & Smarter Vocabularies, 2016

Information resources can be expressed in different representations along many dimensions such as format, language, and time. Through content negotiation, HTTP clients and servers can agree on which representation is most appropriate for a given piece of data. For instance, interactive clients typically indicate they prefer HTML, whereas automated clients would ask for JSON or RDF. However, labels such as “JSON” and “RDF” are insufficient to negotiate between the rich variety of possibilities offered by today’s languages and data models. This position paper argues that, despite widespread misuse, content negotiation remains the way forward. However, we need to extend it with more granular options in order to serve different current and future Web clients sustainably.

Linked Research articles on other websites

I am a co-author of these peer-reviewed HTML articles hosted on other websites: