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Posts tagged with: webmontag

Slowly resurfacing for more SWEOing

Resurfacing from ARC2 and Trice coding for more SWEO work
After two months of spec implementation, I'm finally getting at the more interesting stuff again. I'm not fully on schedule, but I could at least meet the first of this week's three deadlines: I presented a first knowee proof of concept at yesterday's webmontag and feedback was positive. Deadline #3 is a working prototype by this wednesday (promised to SWEO), but I'm not sure I'll be able to deliver. We are close, but there is also deadline #2 lurking: the DAWG implementation reports are due today, and I'm still working on mine for ARC2...

Nevertheless, webmontag was really great again. Had an interesting chat with mixxt's Oliver Ueberholz about the practical problems of adding social data export to SNSs. It seems that microformats are not always the obvious answer when the public export of machine-readable profile information is meant to be implemented as a user option, or when you want to be able to block certain bots from crawling your networks. They are thinking about external files now and wonder if RDF might be an option. Keeping the template code clean, and the ability to serve content for "online social graph aggregators" like knowee from separate machines are two potential benefits. At least the "hidden information is not maintained" argument is moot in their case, as the data is auto-generated anyway.

Last week I had lunch with Alexander Linden, the guy who used to position Semantic Web on the Gartner Hype Cycles. He left Gartner for his own venture (HumanGrid), a crowdsourcing platform. Surprisingly, they are not using SemWeb technology directly, but he said that their solution could be very helpful to generate and quality-improve RDF instance data.

We also talked a bit about SemWeb startup funding, and despite Gartner's latest Hype Cycle, which put SemWeb into the trough of disillusionment for the next 10(!) years, venture capital invested in semantic technology companies is apparently increasing. At least if you are in the US, that is. In Germany, a lot of money still seems to vanish in dodgy projects like smartweb. I hope that theseus is going to have more practical outcomes. They are going to run a competition for non-partners, that's a step in the right direction.

Related to startups and their technology choice is a concern about the lack of end-user semantic web applications that demonstrate the utility of RDF. A Semantic Web is going to be one of the Next Big Things, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it'll be built with W3C technologies. The only big-potential (US) startup with an RDF infrastructure, for example, is generating so much hype that they are doomed to disappoint, no matter what they are going to launch (if they'll ever do). Maybe RDFers should hurry up a little if they want to help avoid a possible backlash. I will, at least.

Alexander said the RDF stack has always been rather tough to sell (especially OWL), and identified some strategies that the SWEO group could focus on during the next couple of months:
  • Admit that the full technology framework is not trivial, it's web-scale information integration after all. If you present it to newbies, always present a consumable subset only, not the full thing (Uh, I'm guilty).
  • Organise more local meetings, BarCamp-style, open to people with related interests (i.e. not-yet-semweb developers)
  • Provide convincing solutions that clearly show how RDF saves money and/or time, or increases productivity in a way that no alternative technology can. CEOs are just one group, a new technology has to attract the developers, because they decide how much friction losses they are willing to accept before they get at the benefits of a new technology. (SWEO is already building a collection of success stories, the Community Projects address these points, too, I think)
  • Something to download and play with for those with initial interest (that's basically Danny's Semantic Web in a box suggestion)
  • Public datasets (Yay LOD project)
An additional suggestion I heard yesterday was "Non-technical Marketing". And that's something SWEO is spending quite some time on, too. (The W3C comm team is actually coming up with a full SemWeb branding strategy soon.) And to cite Dan Brickley:
16:37:57 [danbri] best thing we ever did, was make those tshirts!

So, it seems the SWEO activities are moving in the right direction, but it'd be great to get more ideas. What do you think is still missing or should get a high priority?

SemWeb on a Slide at Düsseldorf's 1st Web Monday

Introduced semsol and gave a mini-talk on the Semantic Web at Düsseldorf's first Web Monday.
Ha, I haven't even fully made the move to my new (self-)employer yet, and Web Monday is already coming to Düsseldorf (joining about 20 other cities in Germany). The first event was yesterday and happened in the cool (style-wise) and hot (summer is back!) Lounge of the Mediadesign University.

I took the opportunity to introduce semsol to the local Web crowd, but also put on my SWEO hat and signed up for a short presentation. For better marketing, I've been thinking a bit about distributing a set of single-page tech flyers recently (called "SemWeb on a Slide", inspired by the classical "Semantic Web Illustrated" series, although I'm not there yet). So, I tried a first version , and given the feedback I think this sort of scoped material has a lot of potential. Someone already asked for a version covering semantic markup. Anyway, the other talks were way cooler than mine (at least for me ;), I especially liked Siggi Becker's "Utopia is not a Trend", and the presentation of MIXXT, which seems to be People Aggregator done right.

SemWeb on a Slide - From Data to Knowledge

Cologne's 2nd Web Montag : "SemWeb and Web 2.0"

Gave a semweb talk at webmontag.
I gave a little talk on "SemWeb and Web 2.0" at yesterday's Web Montag in Cologne. A very nice (and lounge-y) event (BarCamp-like) that I'm surely going to attend again. It's an hour by train away from Essen, so still close enough.
web montag lounge, cologne
Met very interesting and (unexpectedly) also very interested folks. I only had a SemWeb-in-one-slide presentation, but it turned into a nice interactive discussion very quickly, with lots of smart questions, and a 2-hour Q&A afterwards. And we even managed to discuss the possible application of RDF technologies to Web 2.0 software ("mashup-chaining" and the like).

Gartner's Research VP Alexander Linden talked about SemWeb opportunities and problems from an analyst perspective which was very interesting as well.
Gartner Hype Cycle

Thinking about the other demos (The DOJO framework, and a promising group calendaring app called Reminderix), the atmosphere and feedback at Web Montag, and then having a closer look at Gartner's Hype Cycle, I really think it's about time for SemWeb folks to put more effort in getting the mainstream Web community involved (before the Web 2.0 hype reaches the peak). And we need more apps and demos, no matter how simple. Imagine a feed aggregator where you could hover a contributor's name and would get a nice inline profile preview, with a list of the person's last 5 posts, or articles he/she commented on. That sort of stuff. Mentioning Oracle and Adobe raises attention, but as long as there are no convincing and cool Web(!) apps out there, frontend-oriented developers are not likely to invest the time into learning RDF (We know it's not as hard as the critics say, but it's also not as simple as we often claim). We should have high hopes in SPARQL! A small list of impressions (and notes for myself) related to my talk and reactions:
  • people understand the triple (subject-predicate-object) idea and the possibilities of such a generic model, esp. when introduced via known vocabs such as dublin core
  • you lose 'em somewhere between RDFS and OWL (showing a class tree with some annotations can help)
  • they are back when you give a simple SPARQL example
  • "how do I connect my data(base) to the semantic web?"
  • "how do I find the data?"
  • "cool. now, where do I start?"
  • "what does (program) code look like?" (view-source?)
  • "where is the connection to my HTML pages?" (link between the clickable web and the semantic web)
  • "known apps?"
  • "known apps?"
  • "known apps?"
  • "how does such a system handle redundancy and missing information"
  • "which tools would I need, can I work on the lower layers only?"

written in a hurry, may add more points later. The basic thing is that these have been very practical questions, so this is a shout-out (including myself) to provide more hands-on guides and webby demos.

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Web Monday / Web Montag, 2006-01-30 in Cologne, Germany

Web Montag in Cologne.
The Web 2.0 buzz brings back some nice habits from dot-com times: Web Developer get-togethers. I'll have a go at next week's Web Montag (in Cologne): Web Monday - connects users, developers, founders, entrepreneurs, researchers, web pioneers, bloggers, podcasters, designers and other folks interested in Web 2.0 topics (in the broadest sense) We don't have a beamer yet, and folks may shy away from the event, now that I've put "SemWeb" on the agenda ;)

We'll see ...

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