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How to aggregate data from third party sites?

Posted on 2012-12-29
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Last Modified: 2013-11-18
Hey guys, I am writing a document for a university project which asks me to cover RDFa, data aggregation and the semantic web. After a week of research I am not sure I understand all this. Is it normal for sites to aggregate data from third party sites? Is this legal? How exactly would this be done?

I have read all of the Wikipedia sites and plenty other documentation, but I am interested in you guys opinions, on how it should be done and why. How do you draw in information from others sites which is directly relative to the content you already have?

I would appreciate any information on this at all!

many thanks!
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Question by:deucalion0
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Ray Paseur earned 500 total points
ID: 38730698
There is not likely to be any one answer to this post, but hopefully you will get some good comments.

RDFa is a syntax (W3C recommendation) that allows the use of namespaced-attributes in XML or HTML tags.  Perhaps the most popular use of RDFa is the Facebook "open graph" protocol.  It allows and encourages sharing information between web sites about clients' personal  interests.  So, "Yes."  It is legal, normal, and widely prevalent.

But now to the second part of the question, which I find to be a fascinating point of departure for discussion: "information from others sites which is directly relative to the content you already have."  The key term here is "content."  Let's consider how this really works and to what effect.  Go online, perhaps to Amazon.com, and make a search for something fairly specific, say "copper stock pots."  Next, go to a completely unrelated web site like TheOnion.com.  You will find advertisements for copper stock pots turning up in the sidebars!  This is the open graph at work.  There is nothing at all in TheOnion.com about copper stock pots -- it's a satirical news site, so this would seem to belie your definition of "relative to the content" but I see that whole issue a little differently.  If a web site user is getting something for free, the user is not the customer; the user is the product!  And the site visit is the content.  In other words, free web sites get to choose what content they show you, and (presumably) they strike a balance between showing you content that will keep you coming back, and content that will earn them money through advertising impressions and, optimistically, click-throughs to purchases.

That's my broad-brush take on it.  Hope you get some other comments, too.  Happy New Year 2013, ~Ray
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by:deucalion0
ID: 38744737
Thanks for your advice! I took what you said I looked further into this, it is interesting, but very vague in some points. I was hoping for more replies, but EE seems to be so quiet these days :(

Thank you!!!
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by:Ray Paseur
ID: 38745893
Thanks for the points.  Maybe if you post the question again when it is not over a holiday weekend some others will weigh in.  If you feel answers are vague, you can always ask for clarification, too. ~Ray
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