Thursday, August 9, 2007

on the Talis Platform

Something about these semantic web databases fascinates me, and Jeremy and I had an enjoyable conversation with Richard Wallis, Technology Evangelist from Talis, about the possibility of using the Talis Platform to mount data from the Summit catalog. Given the time difference with the UK, it was about the time of the day where he was ready for, as he put it, a "warm beer" and we were needing our coffee.

At one point, I asked him what advantages we would get by mounting the data on the platform versus setting up a MySQL database on our own. As I recall he mentioned three major advantages:
  • the platform is zero-setup and "web scale", no overhead of running a database server ourselves or scaling it to handle load; it resides "in the cloud"
  • it is already optimized for handling MARC bibliographic and holdings data and building faceted next gen type catalogs around it
  • its a semantic web type database; the data can be easily "augmented" with other value added data (bookjackets, wikipedia info) in Talis stores or outside the platform
I also learned that the platform can ingest digital objects and automatically extract metadata from them. This makes me wonder if the platform could be used for setting up lightweight digital asset management systems. Can the platform compete with something like Fedora? Many of their capabilities seem quite similar.

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