Collaborating with Paul Ford

by Kendall Clark

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On Sunday I protested the Bush administration and the Republican Nat'l Party in New York City with good friends: Bijan Parsia, Zoe Mulford, and Paul Ford. We carried balloons, sang, chanted, cheered, and generally made our voices heard in the Big Apple.

But that wasn't my only collaboration with Paul Ford this week. Yesterday on I published his first "Hacking Congress" column, which he called "Screenscaping the Senate". Paul and I have been friends and collaborators for several years; we've had good times, united in our interest in certain kinds of technology, and our relish of particular cities (Philly and NYC). Three or more years ago, as our mutual interest in Semantic Web and RDF stuff was starting to take off, we conceived of an idea to build a proxy of the Thomas site -- Thomas is the web site of the US Congress. We wanted to build a site called at which people could make comments about legislative documents and then read the comments that other people made.

Months turn into years and neither of us has a minute to spare for such a speculative, pro bono project. A few more years go by and Paul is a well-known evangelist for the Semantic Web and I'm doing SemWeb research at UMD's Mindlab. But I'm also the Editor of, and I'm looking for someone to write about the Semantic Web every month.

Thus was born the idea that Paul could write about our old Hacking Congress idea and teach the world a few things he's learned about RDF -- things he's put to good use in building, for example.

I don't ordinarily talk publicly like this about the stuff we do on, preferring to let it talk for itself. But Paul's a good friend, and our idea is a good idea. I'm happy that O'Reilly gives us a place to work on it.

Stay tuned; I think it's gonna be a fun ride.