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Kaleidoscope Twitterbase: Using Twitter as a Semantic Database Frontend

Moderated by: Allan Spale
8:00pm Thursday, 09/18/2008
Topic: BoF
Location: Gallery B - Hudson Hotel

This session will focus on introducing the concepts of Kaleidoscope and will teach how to use the system through its simple command-line interface in Twitter. Various application scenarios will be discussed that could use the Twitter version of Kaleidoscope called Twitterbase or adapt Kaleidoscope to work within existing data systems. If there are technical difficulties that prevent the demo from happening, a general discussion or an alternate presentation will occur.

Kaleidoscope is a new open-source semantic database system developed by Allan Spale that is designed to store both structured and unstructured data. It is specifically designed to hide many of the complicated issues of database creation, usage, and management by utilizing the concept of tagging. Abstract data entities are created and value attributes are added to them as needed. (For instance, the entity highway290 could be tagged with the value attributes of travel_time = 50, length = 20, etc. [units for labels would be implied by the type an attribute received]). Entities are organized and duplicated in a directory of containers. Since everything is interconnected through extensive use of “database foreign keys”, the new data into the system builds upon existing data. The API of Kaleidoscope is built to use any existing data store. The system natively supports BerkeleyDB but could be expanded to include other SQL databases, Google Spreadsheets, Hadoop, Amazon storage services, etc. Future features will include a more robust scripting language and support for web services and programmatic access to local machine DLLs and shared objects.

Twitterbase is a demonstration application that showcases the power of Kaleidoscope with the ubiquity of Twitter. By using Twitter as the “command line” to issue database commands, Twitter allows Kaleidoscope to be accessible from a mobile device or web browser. A Twitter user choose to follow kscope (the Kaleidoscope Twitter bot). Then a user can send private messages (commands) to kscope, and kscope will return a private message (results) to the user. To foster data sharing, each user will have a public data section and a private data section. The user can read and write both sections, but the public data section is accessible to all, while the private data section is blocked from anyone. With such a simple accessibility, data can now be pulled and pushed anywhere— web widgets, external applications, etc.