Semantic Spoons from Mozzanella

Computer programming has come a long way since the days when the major programming languages were machine code and assembler 360 and programmers wore leather caps, goggles and white coats.

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Already in the 1980’s, in the pioneering programme “The Mighty Micro”, Chris Evans of the BBC introduced the public to a second generation of programming languages and, in particular, to Basic. Those, of course, were the days before the Internet, digital photography and MP3 files – in short before today’s exploding multimedia computing age.


As an I. T. lecturer in London I introduced people of all ages to HTML, (hypertext mark-up language) which helped them to build their own web sites. Today, things have gone far beyond that; the Semantic web, organized by the world wide web consortium, otherwise known as W3C, aims at providing common data formats on the web with the use of semantic content in web pages. This will eventually provide a unified structure facilitating the interchange of documents and data which once were unable to communicate with each other. Clearly, HTML in this situation has its limitations and a whole spectrum of new programming languages have been developed and are for ever in course of development including RDF, OWL (web ontology language), XML and SPARQL.

If anyone reading this thinks all this is beyond their ken it’s beyond mine too and beyond most people’s on this globe except for those gifted with the highest minds. Rigorous logic and creativity combine in these super-brains to lead us into the ever-expanding fields of knowledge and relationships which enrich any positive use of the web.

One person able to comprehend the implications of the semantic web and contribute significantly to its development happens to be one of my oldest friends in this part of the world. Danny Ayers, who lives in the charming village (or hamlet even?) of Mozzanella in the central Serchio valley near Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, has been a major figure in this field for some years and has a significant number of volumes he has collaborated in lining his shelves.

Teleworking is, of course ideal for this kind of programming occupation and the contrast between a community which, until relatively  recently, knew no television or even phones, where agriculture and pastoralism remain a major feature, and the state-of –the-art activities of Danny are all the more startling.

Apart from programming, Danny is well into music-making using both digital and analogue instruments In addition to synthesisers he has six guitars, other plucked instruments, a drum kit and keyboards arranged in an impressive array and making an even more impressive sound.

The impetus for getting all this stuff together and working is Danny’s recently completed move to a new house in Mozzanella. As he states, “the fact that the new house has a lot more sunshine seeping through its windows than the old and that the views from it are absolutely superb makes a great deal of difference to the creative spirit.”

Just because one is a wizard at programming the semantic web doesn’t mean that simple rural crafts are neglected. In the afternoon that I visited Danny he completed a wooden spoon most useful for dealing with scrambled eggs and presented it to me complete with my initial on it.

I’ve just realised that I’m writing all this on Danny’s birthday and that he has reached one of those birthdays which end with a zero on the age (plus a one, I’m informed.).

So Buon Compleanno Danny and long may you thrive on the semantic web and in carving both spoons and axe handles!

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5 thoughts on “Semantic Spoons from Mozzanella

  1. Happy Birthday Danny Boy congratulations on the move to your new property which is looking great. Well I admire you and all those wires neatly stored we seem to accumulate so many wires and if not labeled I have not a single clue what on earth they are for and in fact we have several bags full of these help! The views from your place are spiffing great you are looking great too love the idea that you are making wooden spoons would like to learn that craft too what wood is it pine or olive looks like from the.colour a somewhat strange departure from your wooden squirrel making days do you still make those too I wonder!

  2. Hello I have been following your blog with much interest from Canada What a great site! Has provided me with so much information about my birth place, I was born in San Cassiano (my father’s home town) I visit yearly and though I prefer San Cassiano, since the death of my father over 30 years ago and the sale of our home in Livizzano, spend my time in my mother’s home town of Pian di Novello in Pistoia district. This year myself and 5 female friends are planning a trip to Italy during the last week of September and first week of October. You seem to know so much about the Lucchesia area. I was wondering, should time permit for both of us, do you do tours of the Lucca area? We are in the initial stages of planning the trip and exploring possibilities Thank you for your consideration Rosina Montgomery

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hello Rosina. Thanks very much for your comment. I don’t do tours of the Lucca area although I’m happy to show my friends around the place. A very well regarded guidebook has, however, just come out for this part of the world. More details at

      It’s published in the USA so it’ll be easy for you to get a copy.

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