Announcing Referata

I’m very pleased to announce the release of Referata, my Semantic MediaWiki-hosting site. Wikis on this site have usage of not just SMW but Semantic Forms, Semantic Drilldown, Semantic Calendar, Semantic Google Maps, Widgets and a variety of other helpful extensions that aren’t yet available on any other wiki hosting sites. This site thus is a technical, and also, I believe, a user-interface, pioneer, in that I think it’s the first site that lets users create a site with a well-supported data structure, that’s also world-editable. It’s also very easy to set up - someone who knows what they’re doing could create an entire site, with a set of interconnecting data types, in a few hours; trying to create that same set of functionality from scratch, using a web programming language like PHP or Ruby on Rails, could easily take a few months.

I’ve been working on this site for a long time (over a year, in one way or another), and I’m happy with the way it’s turned out. Basic usage of Referata is free; you can sign up and, within five minutes, have your own wiki that can become a collaborative database. There are two service levels that require payment: “Premium”, which costs $20 a month, lets you make your wiki private, so only members can read it, and “Enterprise”, which costs $250 a month and is geared to businesses, lets you set the look (”skin”) of the wiki and use a non-Referata domain as the site’s URL, among other bonus features.

As a side note, I’ve remarked before (in real life, not on this blog) that I don’t think that Semantic MediaWiki and the related extensions have gotten enough attention so far from the outside world, given what I consider their importance; they’ve been essentially ignored by the mainstream press, VCs (not that I’ve tried to contact any, but still), tech blogs and even, for the most part, the semantic-web-focused sites and blogs. One theory I have to explain is just the lack of a coherent name to refer to all of it: people need some kind of label to give to an entire set of functionality, and currently there’s no such thing. Even the name “Semantic MediaWiki” by itself is rather unwieldy, and that’s just one extension: it doesn’t include the main application (MediaWiki), plus the six or so other extensions that can be used in conjunction with it to create a fully structed site. Perhaps what has been needed is a focal point, with a clear name, that provides something tangible for people to look at; and maybe Referata is, as they say, the right candidate for the job.

If you’re curious about the site, feel free to create a wiki of your own; or you can just test things at the Scratchpad wiki, located at scratchpad.referata.com.

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