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Announcement, Idea, Linked Data

Is Google a large-scale contributor to the LOD cloud?

Yesterday, Google announced that WebFinger has been enabled for all Gmail accounts with public profiles. So, for example, using my public profile at Google:



<XRD xmlns='http://docs.oasis-open.org/ns/xri/xrd-1.0'>
<Link rel='http://portablecontacts.net/spec/1.0'
<Link rel='http://webfinger.net/rel/profile-page'
href='http://www.google.com/profiles/Michael.Hausenblas' type='text/html'/>
<Link rel='http://microformats.org/profile/hcard'
href='http://www.google.com/profiles/Michael.Hausenblas' type='text/html'/>
<Link rel='http://gmpg.org/xfn/11'
href='http://www.google.com/profiles/Michael.Hausenblas' type='text/html'/>
<Link rel='http://specs.openid.net/auth/2.0/provider'
<Link rel='describedby'
href='http://www.google.com/profiles/Michael.Hausenblas' type='text/html'/>
<Link rel='describedby'

… which is already quite impressive. Above, you see XRD, the ‘eXtensible Resource Descriptor’ format used to state some essential information about the entity identified through ‘Michael.Hausenblas@gmail.com’.

But it gets even better: as DanBri pointed out on IRC, due to the great work of Brad Fitzpatrick et al, one can obtain FOAF from WebFinger:


gives us …

<?xml version='1.0'?>
<rdf:RDF xmlns='http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/' xmlns:rdf='http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#'>
<PersonalProfileDocument rdf:about=''>
<maker rdf:nodeID='me'/>
<primaryTopic rdf:nodeID='me'/>
<Person rdf:nodeID='me'>
<name>Michael Hausenblas</name>
<OnlineAccount rdf:about='acct:Michael.Hausenblas@gmail.com'>
<accountServiceHomepage rdf:resource='http://www.google.com/profiles/'/>

I dunno how many public Google profiles there are, but I guess quite some … contributing to the Linked Open Data cloud from now on. There is still a lot we can optimise, for sure:

  • Enhance the FOAF available from WebFinger at Google
  • Make the XRD available in RDF; this is actually a work we’ve started a while ago with ULDis, the ‘Universal Link Discovery’ client. In ULDis we developed the ‘Abstract Resource Descriptor vocabulary’ (aardv) able to map between XRD, POWDER and voiD. We also started to work on a converter, the ‘Automated descRiptor Converter’, resulting in aardv.arc.

About woddiscovery

Web of Data researcher and practitioner


8 thoughts on “Is Google a large-scale contributor to the LOD cloud?

  1. Thanks very much for this analysis, Michael!

    FWIW, note that WordPress is butchering your embedded links; you might want to manually embed them so when us hacks try a “Copy Link” we’ll get the actual URI you intended, ie:




    Posted by John S. Erickson, Ph.D. | 2010-02-12, 12:17
  2. Thanks a lot John! BTW: in fact I *did* manually set the two links … /me wondering what is happening there …

    Posted by woddiscovery | 2010-02-12, 12:49
  3. Regarding XRD and RDF, you may be interested in my Perl XRD parser module which parses XRD files into an RDF model, allowing them to be queried by SPARQL, serialised as N-Triples, etc.

    Posted by Toby Inkster | 2010-02-13, 19:21
  4. Hmmm… link in previous comment didn’t work. It’s:


    Posted by Toby Inkster | 2010-02-13, 19:22


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