There has been much talk about the 'social graph' recently, given current enthusiasm for social networking sites such as Facebook. The connections between individuals in networks such as these are laden with implicit value and meaning, if only effective means can be found to capture and understand them. Within specific communities, such as that for research and education, the focus around shared interests and common goals can further enhance the potential of the network and the relevance of connections that exist between its members.
Ideas and technologies from the Semantic Web community offer a powerful means by which existing inter-personal networks can be mapped, understood, and put to work in enhancing the flow of ideas and discourse, whether between pupil and teacher, within groups of students, or out beyond the boundaries of a single institution to the less tangible but potentially far stronger peer relationships of collaborating researchers on the global stage.
The Talis Platform offers a sound foundation, optimised to harness the potential of mass collaboration in powering a new generation of sophisticated human-centric and information-rich applications. The open standards and specifications-based capabilities of this Semantic Web Platform will be used to illustrate the wider points with regard to leveraging the potential of understanding and utilising the network of relationships that already exist, and that are poorly represented on today's Web.