Visual Interfaces to the Social and the Semantic Web (VISSW2009)

I’ve recently been invited (and accepted) to join the Program Committee for the Visual Interfaces to the Social and the Semantic Web workshop which will be held as a part of the 2009 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces which takes place in February in Florida. Here’s a brief description of the workshop:

This workshop aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from different fields, such as Human-Computer Interaction, Information Visualization, Semantic Web, and Personal Information Management, to discuss latest research results and challenges in designing, implementing, and evaluating intelligent interfaces supporting access, navigation and publishing of different types of contents on the Social and Semantic Web. In addition, the workshop also serves as an opportunity for researchers to gain feedback on their work as well as to identify potential collaborations with their peers

I’m quite excited about this workshop, I’ve been spending some of 10% time at work on playing with ideas around how to visualise data on the Semantic Web just over eighteen months ago I was already using and extending Moritz Stefaner‘s excellent Relation Browser to visualise semantically structured data, and was effectively walking around entire graphs of data:

However there were problems with this approach, performance over large sets of data was one, and I spent a considerable amount of time extending the tool. However it occurred to me that with Relation Browser and other similar tools you are forced to take a very node centric view, when sometimes whats more useful is to be able to take a graph or named graph centric view – its not only important to be able to center on one node and see it’s direct relationships it’s often just as important to understand where that node sits with a much wider context. To that end I’ve been experimenting with visualisations that allow you to not only center on a particular node and ‘follow your nose’ but to also pan out take a more hollistic view of that graph of data – I’ve also been thinking about ways to visualise the provenance of data.

I wish I had known about this workshop sooner, it might have been the kick I needed to actually finish demonstrators of these ideas, I think I might still have time though …

With reference to the workshop itself though here’s some important dates and other bits of information if you’re interested in submitting a paper:

  • Paper submission deadline: 14th November, 2008
  • Notication of acceptance: 7th December, 2008
  • Camera-ready paper submission deadline: 14th December, 2008
  • Full papers which should be between 6 and 10 pages.
  • Short papers and position papers which should be up to 5 pages.
  • Demo papers – 2 page description with a screenshot of the working prototype or preferrably a link to an online demo.
  • Submissions must be in PDF format and prepared according to the IUI format.

It promises to be an excellent conference, and one that I will definitely be attending.

Talis gets some nice Semantic Web coverage

Last week Talis has had some interesting coverage on Read/Write Web, a popular semantic web blog. It started off with the article ‘Ten Semantic Web Apps to watch‘, by Richard MacManus. I enjoyed reading Richard’s article and it was interesting to see who else he thought was worth watching in this space. Richard seemed to capture the essence of some of what we are trying to achieve with our platform quite well …

They are a bit different from the other 9 companies profiled here, as Talis has released a platform and not [just] a single product. The Talis platform is kind of a mix between Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web, in that it enables developers to create apps that allow for sharing, remixing and re-using data. Talis believes that Open Data is a crucial component of the Web, yet there is also a need to license data in order to ensure its openness. Talis has developed its own content license, called the Talis Community License, and recently they funded some legal work around the Open Data Commons License

That’s exactly right, by building applications on our platform the data that these applications rely on is stored in a way that allows it be easily re-used and re-mixed. What’s more is that the platform does hide away some of the underlying complexities inherent in Semantic Web technologies by presenting developers with a easy to use, RESTful API that allow you to store, query and manage heterogeneous data. Whilst the platform will continue to grow and evolve it’s already matured to the point where we are building and deploying commercial applications on it i.e. Talis Engage. For me personally the last twelve months have been very exciting and challenging as we’ve seen the Platform mature to the point where we can do the very things we’ve been talking about for ages.

Soon after Richard’s article was posted, my colleague Paul Miller was interviewed by Read/Write Web’s Marshall Kilpatrick. Paul provided more of an insight into the platform and Talis and offered some of his own views on the future of the Semantic Web which is well worth reading.

And then yesterday Andreas Blumauer, of the Semantic Web Company, posted this nice little piece up on his blog.

Talis is a “domain-agnostic” technology platform which supports developers to build applications on the principles of “mass collaboration”. It is a new breed of a distributed programmatic interface heavily deploying all opportunities the Web of Data may offer …. Talis tries to establish a new way of organizing information flows throughout the Web of Data. Since it relies on open standard protocols like RESTful Web Services a lot of applications will use Talis technologies. Talis as a company has a well founded background since it has been provided services for governmental organizations or libraries for the last 30 years. Some of the people working at Talis rank among the best semantic web thinkers.

… Is it wrong to admit that reading that gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling … ?