Swirrl Semantic Web Wiki Data Entry Collaboration We like wikis, but how does a wiki present itself in a business environment? Well, if Swirrl is any indication, then it is worth noting that we still have a way to go. The service aims to get business employees collaborating in a wiki environment, where users can contribute to static pages and data sets. However, the focus is all on the data, which utilizes RDF for a semantic Web experience. The main focus of Swirrl is data collaboration. Users can collaborate on data by utilizing an RDF structure. RDF, for the sake of simplicity, is a way to store information in a way that is semantic, or related.

What's the Point?

Bill Roberts, a Swirrl company representative, explained what Swirrl is trying to accomplish: "We're aiming to lower the bar for efficient sharing and re-use of information in an organization, to try to find the middle ground between individuals with their own copies of spreadsheets (easy, but poor for collaboration) and complex database systems (good collaboration, but big investment needed and can be inflexible in the face of change)." Swirrl Interface Data Management
Swirrl's Interface

It is great to know that there are companies attempting to create RDF-focused solutions for data entry and management. This might mark the start of a new focus on RDF for the future of content management. But Swirrl isn't quite how we pictured it. The interface is fairly basic, and while it is good enough to use, it was not as intuitive as one might appreciate. Quite truthfully, it seemed like a fairly simple Web application, but the data entry was confusing. Unfortunately, this means that employees will also have trouble understanding RDF concepts, and that is a problem. RDF is not the most trivial thing to understand, and Swirrl dropped the ball attempting to present their interface to the user.

Needing Polish

Swirrl claims that you don't need to understand the RDF model in order to use the data editor, but that certainly wasn't the case here. Swirrl Data Entry Semantic Wiki Collaboration
Semantic and Non-Semantic Data Entry Interface. Confused?

Swirrl needs to either step up to the plate on its disguise of RDF, or make better strides to explain what RDF is. The application seems to be in a middle ground, where RDF terminology is used, but they claim that this terminology is not needed to be known. That, in itself, is confusing. A video tutorial would have been very helpful in either case. It is obvious that Swirrl has big dreams of taking on RDF, but the lack of polish is really what is holding it back. The future of Web semantics is still in its infancy, and Swirrl proves that to be true. This application could work in some business solutions, but it's not there quite yet for the masses. Also, when looking around at other data management and project management solutions that are cheaper or free, Swirrl's value might be questioned by some. We're still waiting for our perfect semantic Web.