Open Calais: Semantic News API
February 11th, 2008

Slashdot Reports:

“Tim O’Reilly just did an interview with Devin Wenig, the CEO-designate of Reuters. With no great enthusiasm I started to read yet another interview on how the semantic web was going to make everything great for everybody. Wenig made some good points about the end of the latency wars in news and the beginning of the battle for automatically detecting linkages and connections in the news. Smart news, not just fast news. Great stuff — but just more words? Nope — a little searching revealed that Reuters just opened access to their corporate semantic technology crown jewels. For free. For anyone. Their Calais API lets you turn unstructured text into a formal RDF graph in about one second. I ran about 5,000 documents through it and played with a subset of them in RDF-Gravity. The results were impressive overall. Is this the start of the semantic web getting real? When big names and big money start to act, not just talk, it may be time to pay attention.

More info: http://opencalais.mashery.com/Overview 

The Calais Web Service

The Calais web service automatically attaches rich semantic metadata to the content you submit – in well under a second. Using natural language processing, machine learning and other methods, Calais categorizes and links your document with entities (people, places, organizations, etc.), facts (person ‘x’ works for company ‘y’), and events (person ‘z’ was appointed chairman of company ‘y’ on date ‘x’). The metadata results are stored centrally and returned to you as industry-standard RDF constructs accompanied by a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). Using the Calais GUID, any downstream consumer is able to retrieve this metadata via a simple call to Calais.

This metadata gives you the ability to build maps (or graphs or networks) linking documents to people to companies to places to products to events to geographies to … whatever. You can use those maps to improve site navigation, provide contextual syndication, tag and organize your content, create structured folksonomies, filter and de-duplicate news feeds or analyze content to see if it contains what you care about. And, you can share those maps with anyone else in the content ecosystem.

Open Calais is also offering bounties for applications to integrate with Open Calais — there is currently only one, for WordPress, and a module for Drupal. See: http://opencalais.mashery.com/page/bountyprogram

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Comments
1 - Jeff

What’s the catch? A free service is hiding something. They state that ‘by submitting or generating metadata through the Calais service, you grant Reuters a non-exclusive perpetual, sublicensable, royalty-free license to that metadata’…

The catch is most likely that Thomson Reuters is rapidly building the semantic web… I’m no expert, but they probably want to have “royalty-free license” to your content to index as future metadata. That would help expand their empire or their grip on the webs semantic network. It’s a pretty fair trade off, you can use their app if they can have your content for later use.

Correct me if any of that sounds wrong, like I said – I’m no expert.

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