Ivan’s private site

May 12, 2007

WWW Conference (3rd day)

Filed under: Semantic Web,Work Related — Ivan Herman @ 23:30

First of all, I realized how stupid I am. I mixed up my diary entry and I missed the Linked Data BOF at WWW2007. There is no excuse, other than human stupidity… But I found out that Paul Miller blogged even twice on that (on the 10th and the 11th), so at least I could read something about what happened (and Chris, Susie, Tim, and others also told me about it).

I went to the keynote of Bill Buxton. Great speaker, very entertaining presentation, but made me think a lot on what really the takeaway message was. The funny thing was that I did not really find any at first, but it made one think and discuss with others. And there are some general, though difficult-to-describe messages that I could take away after all: that we, computer scientists (or, if you prefer, geeks:-) should take a step back sometimes (often?) and realize that what happens around us in technology has a long history and background that is worth remembering (ie, it is worth put things in perspective sometimes) but, also, that our community has a major responsibility on how the social evolution happens. I liked his reference that the annoying ads on the web pages are also “our” fault in so far as the community has not yet come up with other business models that would be less of a, shall we say, pain in the back. Nothing fundamentally new, in fact, but are the kind of things that are always worth discussing again and again.

Then the Semantic Web track began, lasting for two days. Obviously, lots of papers, lot to read again at home once I am back home. The general picture (over the two days, actually) is that I missed the more “application” oriented papers, something like the “Semantic Web in Use” track at ISWC. Most of the papers were quite theoretical and more often than not concentrating on issues around ontologies, their management, etc, rather than on simpler levels and applications (the “dark side” of Jim Hendler). However, with this caveat, there were quite a number of interesting papers.

The paper of Christian Halaschek-Wiener and Jim Hendler (Toward Expressive Syndication on the Web) on analyzing news feeds using OWL had an interesting aspect (beyond the application proper), namely the speed gain they could achieve by a careful fiddling around with the core algorithms (see the paper for the details if you are interested). It refers back to what I wrote yesterday: that the Semantic Web tools being slow should be considered as an urban legend soon… The paper of Axel Polleres on Rules and SPARQL can also be related to the same issue: Axel shows how SPARQL queries can be mapped on some rule engines (like Prolog). Beyond the theoretical interest of the technique this also means that SPARQL implementations can capitalize on the long tradition of rule language implementations bound to, say, a relational database. Similarly, the paper of Jean-Sebastien Brunner (Explorations in the Use of Semantic Web Technologies for Product Information Management) showed how the group at IBM China could make spectacular speed ups of their Minerva environment: a query, also involving some level of OWL reasoning, was speeded up from an hour’s response time to a second!

David Huynh created quite a stir with his Exhibit presentation. For those who do not know it yet, Exhibit is a really nice tool to create very quickly a faceted browser for structured data. Great and nice stuff (I have actually used it for my publication and presentation list on my CWI home page). But what David did was great: he had the guts to make a presentation by building up a web page with his tools on the spot, editing his page directly while all the audience was watching. It went beautifully, and he got a well-deserved applause for his performance…

The paper of Kemafor Anyanwu on SPARQ2L defines path expressions and corresponding filters to SPARQL. It is the line of other, similar works (like PSPARQL, for example) this means that more complex and also more expressive queries can be made (e.g., (X,??p,?Y) means connecting X to ?Y to some path). Of course, SPARQL has to be finished first (hopefully by the end of the year), but these ideas are interesting and important when and if work will reopen for a second version of SPARQL…

A long day…


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