Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all of you. May 2008 bring tolerance, health, happiness to all of you, and peace to the world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Trip to South Korea

From 19-23 November, 2007 I will visit South Korea in search for the latest developments in ICT. We will visit several small and large companies. I will post some multimedia information on my TV channel@kyte (clicking on the channel activates the control to move backward and forward through the content).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Beyond the (current) web

End of October, I gave a lecture at the University CarlosIII in Madrid -in the context of a Master in Web Engineering- about what I consider to be beyond the current web. In a nutshell, it means more intelligence, everywhere (operationalized in this lecture by Semantic Technologies and Ambient Intelligence). If you understand Spanish you can see the lecture (60 min) here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Everybody can be a journalist and publisher (in realtime)

I started testing out kyte, a web/mobile application that let's you post multimedia content (pictures, text, movies, sound, etc.) in realtime. Content can be uploaded from a browser (drag and drop), and from mobile phones and PDAs; it is straightforward. In a sense, it gives anyone his/her personal TV channel. Mine is here (only test material so far).

And below I embed the channel (http://www.kyte.tv/rbenjamins) directly.

If you don't see anything, it isn't that easy, afterall...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Use and Abuse of Internet

The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords has published an extensive report on Personal Security on the Internet in the context of crime and organized abuse (pdf here). Their conclusion is that e-crime is increasing in a rapid way, but there is still time for governments to take appropriate action:

"The threat to the Internet is clear, but it is still manageable. Now is the time to act, both domestically, and internationally, through the European Union and through international organisations and partnerships."

Whatever measures (no measure is also a measure) are proposed, they will always provoke reactions that go in all directions: from "this will kill the spirit of Internet" to "this still will leave many security holes", and all positions in-between those extremes. Ideal policies do not exist; all of them have advantages and disadvantages. It is the weighing of those (dis)advantages that makes the policy. A useful question to ask oneself in such situations is: “What is worse?” which in this case translates to:

What is worse? Making Internet so secure that no abuse is possible, but that at the same time kills the proper nature of Internet? Or, keeping Internet open, thereby taking for granted that some abuse will occur?

How much abuse are we willing to tolerate? To what extent do we accept to limit new possibilities and opportunities offered by this new instrument, for the sake of security?

Those are the real questions, but there is nothing new to those questions. Politicians deal with them on a daily basis (not saying that they take the right decisions …)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Monitoring for Technological Strategy

To be competitive in a fast changing, global environment requires monitoring many different things (competitors, technology, social trends, economies, countries, etc) in different places (physical, virtual). In this post, I am concerned with technology. How does one know what technology to monitor? There are many considerations, aspects, view points, trade-offs to take into account. The sketched figure shows the main ideas (to be improved).

Many large organizations have a strategic focus for a particular time frame. This focus provides an overall context for what technologies to monitor. It is important to notice that monitoring a technology involves much more than the technology alone. Monitoring a technology because it seems a nice technology does not help. Important notions to consider while monitoring include the business context, potential applications, market readiness, economics, society aspects, legal issues, etc. In this sense, the word “technology” is too limited to express what we need to cover. It would be more appropriate to refer to technological trends in a market, society and business context.

Apart from the strategic focus, additional factors that determine what technology trends to monitor include what your competitors are doing and what technological trends are emerging.

All those inputs help us in deciding what technologies (or “concepts”) to monitor. The result can be seen as a “technology/concept map”. This map tells us where we should put our effort in our monitoring activity. Notice that the map itself is a living thing, which needs regular updates, and in particular upon changes of the strategic focus, new emerging technologies, social changes that make existing technologies suddenly relevant, competitor activities, etc.

Once we know what to monitor, we still need to find out the best way to monitor each technology, i.e. what antennas to use and where. The following dimensions for characterizing technologies may be of help in this respect:

- Market readiness
- Technological maturity
- Legal aspects related to the use of the technology
- Social acceptation
- Applicability for the different business lines (the more the better)
- Applicability horizon for the business
- Technologies potentially provided by providers (especially for those with a short horizon, e.g. less than one year)
- Skills available in-house
- Available partners
- Etc.

All those factors help us in deciding when we should know about the technologies/concepts. Before it becomes business, before it appears in popular press, or before appearing in specialized press, before it enters the blogosphere, before it enters the research world, or before it enters garage startups, or even before it happens … It is common sense that the earlier one wants to be informed, the more expensive and difficult it is. It is simple to discover that a company offers a new service by reading it in the technology supplement of a newspaper. Low cost, low risk, but also low strategic value. On the other hand, to discover that a small startup constructs key technology for building a competitive edge in your business (and before the whole world knows it) is difficult and expensive. High cost, high risk, but high potential strategic value.

Corresponding to the different time frames desired for monitoring things, different methods apply from using Internet (reading blogs, search engines, intelligent agents, etc, to having your people in situ close to where things tend to happen. Those are two extremes in between which there are many different options, each with its advantages and disadvantages. This trade-off requires explicit decisions.

Once decisions are made, we have all parameters defined for setting up our Technology Observatory relevant for our strategic focus. The result of the observatory is a set of actions and/or recommendations for each technology concerned, such as passive monitoring, setting up a consortium, pursuing standards, partner with other organizations, buy a company, delete, etc. This can be expressed in another map, let’s say the technology/concept recommendation map. Moreover, sometimes it is possible to find external funding and partners to monitor a certain technology or relevant aspect of it.

The technology observatory may provide relevant information for different target audiences. The obvious one is the top management of the organization, but other targets include middle management, the whole company, partners and even the outside world. Each audience may require its own format, in order to ensure that the information arrives, and is actively consumed by the right people at the right time. The whole enterprise of technology monitoring is a waste of effort and money if this last step is not taken care of.

There are two relevant feedback loops to be aware of, and to stimulate. Monitoring the technology trends may change the technology/concept map by additions, deletions or modifications. Another and more profound feedback is to modify the strategic focus of the organization based on the technology observation performed. It may be the case that some observation suddenly opens a new business perspective to such extent that the strategic focus needs to be changed accordingly.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Technological Strategy 2.0

There are many ways to make a strategical technology plan for a company. One can analyze lots of relevant information, do a synthesis and come up with a plan. One of the key points is to decide what information to analyze, and what aspects to include.

If web3.0 already existed in its full extent, I could just type in some phrase such as "Find me relevant aspects for defining a Technological Strategy in the Telecommunitacions sector taking into account concepts like ICT, Internet, Multimedia, Ambient Intelligence, Intelligent neworks", and I would get relevant information to consider. Unfortunately, web3.0 is not yet there in this extent.

But maybe web2.0 can help out? Maybe there is a community out there that can suggest interesting things to take into account for defining such a plan.

Open innovation? Innovation 2.0? Name it what you want. I invite everybody to react with relevant concepts, notions, technologies, trends, business ideas, etc, etc. to contribute to such a technological plan in an innovative way ...

Thank you in advance!

Change of focus

Due to my professional change, I have adapted the topic of the blog to the more general topic of technological innovation.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A typical story on Innovation: Europe versus US

Business Week has published an interesting article on the battle between Europe and US concerning Semantic Web (or Web3.0) technology. A nice illustration of how innovations usually happen, with some hope for a change in favor of Europe.


Friday, July 13, 2007


Last month it has been silent on my blog. That usually happens when something is cooking ... Today is my last day working at iSOCO as I will move to Telefonica Research and Development. Below you can find the "official" announcement.

I will continue to write this blog, but the topic may shift a bit. See you in August.

Stay tuned!

Dear friends and colleagues,

After 7 years of full time dedication to iSOCO, I will leave its daily operations from end of July, 2007. I will remain, though, a member of iSOCO’s Board of Directors.

I accepted a new position as Director of Technological Strategy at Telefónica R&D.

I am sure we will stay in touch, either through opportunities arising from my new position, or through my continued involvement in iSOCO.

Kind regards,
-- Richard

Apreciad@s amig@s,

Después de 7 años de dedicación completa en iSOCO, dejaré el día a día de la empresa a partir de finales de julio, 2007. Seguiré, no obstante, formando parte del Consejo de Administración.

He aceptado un nuevo reto como Director de Estrategia Tecnológica en Telefónica I+D.

Estoy seguro de que seguiremos en contacto, ya sea con las nuevas oportunidades que nos vayan surgiendo, o bien a través de iSOCO.

-- Richard

Beste vrienden en collegas,

Na 7 jaar toewijding aan iSOCO, trek ik me –per eind juli 2007- terug uit de dagelijkse leiding van het bedrijf. Ik blijf wel lid van de Raad van Bestuur.

Ik neem de positie in van Directeur “Technologische Strategie” in Telefónica Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling in Madrid, Spanje.

Ik ben ervan overtuigd dat we contact zullen houden; vanwege mogelijkheden in mijn nieuwe positie, of via mijn blijvende verbondenheid aan iSOCO.

Vriendelijke groeten,
-- Richard

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Invited talks of ESTC 2007, Vienna

The first European Semantic Technologies Conference is over. We had 220 registered visitors, of which 80% from industry. A big success taking into account that it was the first edition.


The Invited talks can be downloaded in pdf.

  • Prof. Frank van Harmelen, Semantic Technologies anno 2007: main streams, popular falacies,
    current status, future challenges (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) ESTC2007_Van_Harmelen
  • Dr. Mark Greaves, The Relationship Between Web 2.0 And the Semantic Web (Vulcan Inc.) ESTC2007_Greaves_Vulcan
  • Ora Lassila, From the Semantic Web to a Broader Vision of Personal Computing (Nokia) ESTC2007_Lassila_InvitedTalk
  • Dave Pearson, Delivering Business Value with Semantic Technology (Oracle) ESTC2007_Pearson_Oracle
  • Dr. Susie Stephens, Integrating Enterprise Data with Semantic Web Technologies (Eli Lilly)

  • Dr. Benjamin Grosof, Commercializing Semantic Web:Rules, Services, and Roadmapping (MIT, Vulcan Inc.) ESTC2007_Grossof
  • Dr. Michael Brody (Verizon)

  • Also downloadable from the ESTC 2007 website.


    W3C SWEO Publishes Case Studies

    The Semantic Web Education and Outreach Interest Group (SWEO) of the World-Wide Web Consortium, headed by Tim Berners-Lee, publishes a list of concrete applications based on Semantic Technologies, presented by clients, rather than by technology vendors/providers. The list will be augmented as new applications are submitted. As of June 6, 2007, the list contains 18 applications, of which five are using semantic technology of iSOCO.

    The announcement has been made by Susie Stephen of Eli Lilly and is reproduced here:

    "The Semantic Web Education and Outreach (SWEO) Interest Group is pleased to announce the first set of Case Studies and Use Cases giving some examples of how the Semantic Web of machine readable data is used today. Applications are presented in areas ranging from automotive to health care, and from B2B systems to geographical information systems. The SWEO Interest Group will continue to publish new Case Studies and Use Cases in the future; an RSS feed for new submissions is available. A short overview is also available in Open Document Format, PDF, and HTML formats. "

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    1st European Semantic Technology Conference

    This week, on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, June 1, the First European Semantic Technology Conference (ESTC2007) takes place in Vienna. The final, detailed program can be found here (pdf, 3MB).

    70% of the participants is coming from industry, which is the target audience. Major companies attending include SAP, Nokia, Oracle, France Telecom, British Telecom, T-Systems, Vodafone, Siemens, Telefonica, Verizon, and Atos Origin. Spanish organizatinos involved include among others Vodafone, Bankinter, City of Zaragoza, Fundación M. Botín, Atos Origin and Telefonica.

    Sectors where Semantic Technology is applied and that present at ESTC include Public Sector, Telecommunications, Automotive, Aerospace, Cultural Heritage, Healthcare & Lifesciences, Media and eBusiness.

    Countries well represented include Austria, Germany, UK, Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.

    Press release in El País can be found here (pdf).

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    New Gartner Report on Semantic Technologies

    In a recent report of May 9, 2007, Gartner gives its view and recommendations to organizations concerning “Finding and Exploiting Value in Semantic Technologies on the Web”. You can buy it here. My interpretation of this report is:

    Value Proposition
  • Semantic Technologies will are gradually being taken up by organizations.
  • It will offer extraordinary advances for exploitation and visibility of information, in particular regarding the automatic interpretation of documents (unstructured information), i.e. without human intervention.
  • This will unleash information in organizations that currently is hidden in documents such as html, doc, ppt. pdf, xls, etc.

    Industry Uptake and Recommendation to Organizations
  • Industry uptake will be gradual starting with focused applications using semantic hypertext (microformats, a Web2.0 technology) that embeds semantic tags in web pages
  • By carefully selecting focused projects to start with, Industry can already gain significantly today

  • In the next 10 years, web-based technologies will be increasingly able to embed semantics in documents.
  • By 2012, 70% of public web pages are expected to include some level of semantic mark-up
  • The full blown public semantic web, using OWL, will take several more years to come to maturity.

    In short, the web will gradually incorporate semantics starting with lightweight semantic hypertext (microformats) to more heavyweight ontologies. This vision is consistent with my own experience with clients: start small and simple, but with the big picture in mind. Semantic technologies owe to Web2.0 technologies -where semantic tags are attached to content out of pure necessity- in the sense that it is now widely recognized that (some kind of) semantics is needed to keep the web a friendly place to be. Some people (e.g. Mor Naaman of Yahoo!Research) express the same trend in a (very) different way, but the essence of the message is the same.
  • Monday, May 21, 2007

    Free Office to PDF converter

    In my experience, much quicker and more robust than Adobe's. The reason for posting this on my blog, while it has nothing to do with Intelligent Applications, is that I generate lots of PDF documents from MS Office (Word, PPT), and more often than I want, I waste time in this process through slowness and errors of PDF writer (at least on my machines).

    So I thought maybe others experience the same problems in execution of this boring task.

    EC publishes statistics of FP7, ICT, Call1 Submissions

    In total, 1838 proposals have been submitted. Popular areas include: Future Network (175), Software and Services (184), Cognitive Systems (184), Digital Libraries (191), Content and Semantics (149), and Ageing (152).

    Lots of competition! Who is going to evaluate all this, with so many experts involved in the proposals. For all evaluators, make sure you reserve your hotels in Brussels as soon as possible. It will be crowded in June ...

    The overview can be downloaded (pdf) from the CDTI website (among others, I am sure).


    Monday, May 14, 2007

    The Future of Search Engines (outgoing links in Spanish)

    On May 10, 2007 in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela I participated in a round table discussion on the future of search engines. The event was organized by FESABID: the tenth Spanish Days of Documentation. This is the main Spanish event for libraries and other institutions that manage very many documents. About 800 persons attended. The panel was formed by (in parenthesis appear the topics of the talk):

  • Richard Benjamins, iSOCO (Vertical search engines and Semantic Technology)
  • Eva Méndez, Universidad Carlos III (Dublin Core)
  • José Ramón Pérez Agüera, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (IR algorithms, Semantics and Natural Language Processing).
  • Antonio Pareja Lora, UCM, colaborador del Grupo de Ingeniería Ontológica (OEG) de la UPM (Ontologies)
  • Antonio S. Valderrábanos, Bitext.com (Natural Language Processing)
  • Isidro Aguillo, CINDOC/CSIC (moderator)

    The presentations given by the panel members formed an interesting mix of different by complementary views on the matter of search engines: an excellent starting point for setting up a new breakthrough project to advance the state of the art.

    The presentations of the whole conference are made available here. My presentation can be downloaded here.
  • Monday, April 23, 2007

    Norwegian Semantic Days 2007

    On April 23, 24 the Norwegian Semantic Days, 2007 will take (took) place in Stavanger. I will give a keynote on Semantic Solutions for the Enterprise, which can be downloaded here.

    Speakers of other keynotes include Ivan Herman of W3C, Ian Horrocks of University of Manchester and Susie Stephens of Eli Lilly and responsible for W3C's Semantic Web Education and Outreach (SWEO) Interest Group.

    All presentations given at the conference can be downloaded here.

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    BusinessWeek about the Semantic Web

    In a special report on April 9, 2007, Businessweek published several interesting things about the Semantic Web on its website. There is an article called "Taming the World Wide Web", starting with the explaining the value of this technology for the pharmaceutical sector. There is also a podcast, called "The CEO Guide to the Semantic Web".

    Enjoy (I use this blog also as a kind of storage for relevant pointers).

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    A New Generation Search Engines

    The Financial Times recently published a short note: “New tools to vie with Google”, which briefly describes –from a user point of view- some of the new generation search engines. It includes new search engines like:

    All those search engines allow queries in natural language, and they claim to use NLP and semantics to “understand” the content.

    In my understanding, there are two ways where NLP and Semantics can play a role:

    • Interpreting the user query. This is what most new search engines claim to do.
    • “Understanding” the content to be indexed. This requires that at index time, not only the individual words of the content (documents) are indexed, but indexing also considers NLP and Semantics. It is unclear to what extent those “new” search engines apply this for indexing. Yet another possibility is to launch the query against structured information (e.g. RDF).
    I usually summarize the above two points in respectively Semantics in Access and Semantics in the Source. The latter is obviously much harder than the former, and a real challenge for the next generation search engines.

    The short note of Paul Taylor also mentions several “search” engines for comparing prices of products available on the web, including

    • Shopzilla
    • Pricegrabber
    • Shopping.com

    While the note talks about those “shopping bots” for consumers, also providers (the businesses) may have interest in such tools for tracking their products at resellers’ sites and for automatically tracking their competitors’ products.

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    The Impact of "IT on demand"

    Amazon are known for selling books, CD and recently also grocery. Amazon have millions of customers, and in order to attend all those customers, they have built up a scalable infrastructure with a huge amount of storage and computation capacity. Based on their experience they recently have started to rent out parts of their IT infrastructure as Web Services. Currently 10 web services are available. The three most important ones are:
    • Simple storage. Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
    • Mechanical Turk. Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate “Artificial” Artificial Intelligence directly into their processing by making requests of humans.
    • Elastic computing clouds. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

    This trend is important for several reasons. For future providers of such web services, it creates new business models for companies who have invested significant budget in IT infrastructure. What was viewed as a necessary evil is turned into a new source of revenue.

    The benefit for potential buyers/users of such web services, is that it frees them from having to think about and invest in IT and computing infrastructure. The barrier to start up an ecommerce business becomes lower, by making much more flexible and controllable the associated IT costs.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Searching content of images

    A few days ago I mentioned the game approach for annotating images of Louis von Ahn, that makes use of free computation cycles of humans. A straigthforward use of the side effect of playing the games milliones of times, is a search engine for images. Here you can try prototypes for two search image engines:

    1. Search for images according to overall subject of image
    2. Search for objects within images

    Although the amount of images considered is still limited (tens of thousands), the approach seems promising.

    Thursday, April 05, 2007

    The Web of Data

    In this movie, Tim Berners-Lee explains the Web of Data, one of the goals of the Semantic Web. It provides several concrete examples of what the Semantic Web would be useful for from an end user point of view. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Usability and Innovations

    For any innovation it takes effort for users to accept it. What seems straightforward for the inventors (or developers), may be actually very hard for the targeted user group. This is very well illustrated in this movie available at youtube.

    Web2.0 to the extreme

    I recently saw the invited talk of Louis von Ahn at Google. It is simply great! Innovation, simplicity with huge potential. The perfect balance between computer and human computing power. Scientist are working for years on solving the problem of automatic image understanding, and Louis solves it with a completely new paradigm (human computation). SETI, but than with free computing cycles of humans ...

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    Semantic Technology Annual Conference 2007 in Korea

    Yesterday, March 28, 2007 the South Korean Semantic Technology Annual Conference took place. Over 200 people attended, of which about 175 came from industry; a very good sign of industrial interest in corporate semantic web technology. The conferene was hosted by SemTech Korea and took place in the RitzCarlton Hotel en Seoul (see phote left). The conference was chaired by Dr. Lee, CEO of Saltlux.

    Dieter Fensel of Deri gave a talk on Service Web3.0. The future web will contain billions of services and proper management of those services (discovery, composition, execution, etc.) requires a semantic infrastucture. Prof. Fensel also showed the famous "DIP" movie that explains the business value of Semantic Web Services for industry (see photo below for the financial industry). I gave a talk on today's applications that use Semantic Technology; 7 concrete applications that we built in iSOCO for clients. Mike Ullrich from Ontoprise presented use cases of Semantic Applications. Prof. Riichiro Mizoguchi from Osaka University gave a presentation on the industrial impact of Ontology Engineering.
    Below a few photos to give an impression of the conference.

    This is the first time that I have been to Seoul, South Korea. In 1997 I visited Japan for the IJCAI conference. South Korea is a remarkable country. 20 years ago it was a poor county, now it is the eleventh economic power in the world. It is one of the global leaders in penetration of broadband internet and home of the world-wide known brands such as LG, Samsung, Kia, Hyundai and Daewoo. My impression of the city is a mixture between oriental and western (especially US, several Starbucks ...) culture. Doing business in Korea is also quite different from Europe, but while doing and reading one learns.

    The photo below is the view on Seoul from my hotel room on the 14th floor.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    관련 단기 강좌

    On March 28, 2007 I will give an invited talk at the Semantic Technology Annual Conference 2007 in Korea. Announcement is available here.

    I have many things to tell, but did't find the time to write it down.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    The first pages of the Semantic Web? (1998), and Web2.0?

    I guess everybody now and then performs an “ego search” or “ego surf”, to see what search engines give back by typing in your name and then navigating to those pages. In my case, since more than 10 years, “Richard Benjamins” gives my (old) homepage of the University of Amsterdam, where I worked between 1989 and 2000 (with temporal yearly stays at universities in Sao Paulo, Paris and Barcelona), until I joined iSOCO. Today, Google still gives the same result: http://hcs.science.uva.nl/usr/richard/home.html (sometimes a bit frustrating, where is the (Google) impact of my current work? :-).

    Since I left the University of Amsterdam, I have had no access to my former homepage, so I have not been able to make any changes. At the bottom of the page you can read: “This page was last updated on 12/08/1998.” Almost 10 years ago! At the beginning, I was annoyed that I could not update the page. However, now I am actually quite happy that the page hasn’t changed since then, because it may qualify for the oldest Semantic Web page still accessible on the web (even though I think that Jim Hendler’s semantically annotated homepage appeared even earlier).

    To check the “semantic webness” of the page, view the source code of the following pages:

    The home page:
    http://hcs.science.uva.nl/usr/richard/home.html. You will see tags in the html code “onto” that represent the semantics of terms appearing on the web page.

    <a onto="page[firstName=body]">Richard</a>
    <a onto="page[lastName=body]">Benjamins </a>
    <A HREF="http://hcs.science.uva.nl/" onto="page[affiliation=body]"target="_top">
    Dept. of Social Science Informatics (SWI)</A>
    <A HREF="mailto:richard@swi.psy.uva.nl" onto="page[email=href]">

    Or the publication page:

    A semantic annotation for a book publication:

    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name:Book"> </a>
    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[editor=body]"> Enric Plaza</a>,
    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[editor=href]"
    Richard Benjamins </a> (Editors),
    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[title=body]"> LNAI 1319:
    Knowledge Acquisition, Modeling and Management.
    Proceedings of the 10th EKAW. </a>
    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[publisher=body]"> Springer-Verlag</a>,
    <a name="Plaza:97a" onto="name[year=body]">1997</a>. <P>

    Or on the projects page:
    <A HREF=http://www2.cordis.lu/tmr/src/grants/fmbi/950550.htm
    onto="href:Project" onto="page[worksAtProject=href]">
    Cordis entry of Using a Library with Reusable Problem-Solving
    Methods to Configure Flexible and Robust Problem Solvers</A>

    All those terms are (or were) specified in an ontology that was located somewhere else on a server, in this case in Karlsruhe at the AIFB institute.

    This was at the time that XML began to become popular, and way before RDF and OWL came into existence. The project was called (KA)2: Knowledge Acquisition for the Knowledge Acquisition Community. How it works (or worked) can be read in:

    V. R. Benjamins, D. Fensel, S. Decker and A. Gomez Perez: (KA)2: Building Ontologies for the Internet: a Mid Term Report. In the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 51:687-712, 1999, of which an extra official version can be found at here.

    This was -to my knowledge- the first European Semantic Web project, whose idea was born at IJCAI 1997 in Nagoya, Japan during a train trip from Nagoya to Kyoto which I made with Dieter Fensel.

    A lighter version of the paper can be accessed at the former so-called Banff Workshops, in 1998: V. Richard Benjamins and Dieter Fensel, Community is Knowledge! in (KA)2. I guess that should be one of the first papers on Web2.0, in 1998 :-)


    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Technology Evangelist?

    One of my principal activities these days is to bring Semantic Technology to markets and society in order to improve our (for the moment, professional) lives. This involves, among others, understanding of technology and market mechanisms, business insight and business development, and knowledge of processes related to innovation. Many times I find myself talking to people trying to convince them about the great things, the major leap forward, that this new technology can bring us. I am convinced myself; for sure. I often use the term: “to evangelize”, in analogy to the evangelists of the Bible.

    Recently I found out that this is actually a know position in organizations, and I found a study that analyzes several important technology evangelists of Silicon Valley (I think Apple appointed the first one). The study can be found here, and I found the reference at the blog “How to Change the World” of Guy Kawasaki, quite an interesting and entertaining blog (e.g. check out the video on “The Art of the Start”).

    The abstract of the study is as follows (taken from http://www.growthresourcesinc.com/TechEvan.pdf):

    "The purpose of this study was to gain a clearer understanding of the relatively new phenomenon known as the "technology evangelist." By our exploration, we aim to help readers improve their management functions, and to understand how best to integrate “evangelists” within their organizations.

    In order to do so, we analyzed the roles of those who hold this position and leadership styles. Our research included surveying and interviewing 29 technical evangelists worldwide from a variety of cultures and organizations.

    Some general tendencies regarding the role did, indeed, emerge. However, we also discovered variable character, or personality, patterns among the participants. Therefore, we proceeded to examine the gap, between the role of the technology evangelist and the subject’s personal character.

    We contrasted individual competencies with these character patterns, and created a grid to analyze their qualities of leadership. This paper includes our recommendations for recruiting, integrating, developing and managing the technology evangelists."


    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    1st European Semantic Technology Conference (ESTC2007) initiates a new conference series in Semantic technologies in Europe

    1st European Semantic Technology Conference (ESTC2007) initiates a new conference series in Semantic technologies in Europe

    The European Semantic Technologies Conference aims to be the European platform for bringing together those who use Semantic Technologies in their business, those who implement Semantic Solutions and those who build semantically-enabled products. So far, existing events around Semantic Technologies have been mostly academically oriented. With the technology becoming more mature and deployed, the need for a more industrial and commercially oriented event is evident.

    The following texts come from a press release and the Call for Presentations of ESTC 2007. Full press release can be found here.

    ESTC2007 is a new European meeting place for users, practitioners, developers and researchers to discuss the applicability and commercialization of semantic technologies for enterprises and public organizations. ESTC also enables delegates to understand Semantic Technologies and their potential and how to exploit these technologies in their organizations.

    The conference will be held in Hofburg Redouten Säle, Vienna, Austria, May 31 – June 1, 2007 and will feature case study and practical experience presentations, workshops and tutorials, invited talks and an industrial exhibition.

    Conference chairman Dr John Davies, Head of BT’s Next Generation Web unit, said “I am very pleased to be able to announce the initiation of this conference series. Given the increasing maturity of semantic technology, the time is right to complement more technical and academic conferences in this area with an annual European conference focusing on deployment and the commercial benefits semantic technology can deliver.”

    The first ESTC is looking for contributions of:
    • Businesses and public organizations describing their practical experience (case studies) in using Semantic Technologies (the problem, the solution, initial expectations, the project, results, cost/benefit)
    • Vendor reports on semantically-enabled products and solutions
    • Analyst reports on the current market situation for Semantic Technologies

    In particular, we invite the submission of case studies, reports and practical experience papers.

    The full CFP can be found here.

    The Program Chair is advised by a Program Advisory Board, which consists of a mixture of industrial people, research analysts, venture capitalists, and renowned academics with an interest in applied research.

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    But how does a VC think about the Semantic Web?

    A few days ago, someone sent me a pointer to a presentation given by one of the investors in Radar Networks, Peter Rip of Crosslink Capital, entitled: "Semantic Web, What Does It All Mean for You?" (Radar Networks was mentioned in the article "Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense, John Markoff, New York Times: November 12, 2006 ", see my post of Jan 1, 2007).

    I was surprised by the simplicity and clearness of this presentation concerning its relation to Web2.0. Basically, he views Web2.0 as a "poor man´s Semantic Web". Bringing the Web to its full potential requires the Semantic Web. Check it yourself here. The presentation is posted on this blog.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    The Value of Semantic Web Services for Business and Society

    In an earlier post, I wrote about the DIP project and mentioned there: "There is also a movie available explaining the value of the project in terms of three particular sectors, e-government, telco, and e-banking." The movie has now been finished and released and can be watched in this blog, as well as on the DIP home page.

    Again, DIP has been a very ambitious, yet successful project which potential for major impact in society and businesses. In a few months, I hope to be able to be a bit more precise about some of those business opportunities.

    If the movie doesn´t show, please click here to view it on the KMI website.

    Some quotes from the Final Review Report:

    "... the work that has been carried out by the DIP consortium and the way in which the consortium has carried out that work. The DIP partners have ensured that the project has become a flagship project."

    "Overall, DIP has been a paragon of collaborative research. "

    "The reviewers would be pleased if DIP was drawn on by the CEC as an exemplar project, in order to demonstrate the increased value of carrying out international collaborative research."

    "Technically the project has produced excellent results "


    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Semantic Web, Web2.0, Web3.0 …

    The past few months I have been puzzled with the message of some publications regarding the Semantic Web (or better “Semantic Technologies”), Web2.0, Web3.0, and in particular with interpreting what this means for uptake of Semantic Technologies in the market.

    The publications in question are:

    At first sight, it seems that Web2.0 is receiving the media attention that previously was given to the Semantic Web. In the figure below, which is generated with Google Trends, the blue line represents the Semantic Web and the red line Web2.0. The top part refers to web pages mentioning the terms; the bottom part refers to news appearance.

    In the 2006 edition of Gartner’s Hype Curve, the Public Semantic Web is at the through of disillusionment and is estimated to take between 5 and 10 years to reach the plateau of productivity. Web2.0 and the Corporate Semantic Web, on the other hand, are at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, the former reaching its plateau in an estimated 2-5 years, and the latter 5-10 years.


    One reason for these phenomena is that Semantic Technologies build up an infrastructure on top of which the web can grow to its full potential, whereas Web2.0 is related to communities of final users (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/, http://www.wikipedia.org/). One consequence of this is that Web2.0 is much more visible than Semantic Technologies, and thus it is much easier to attract attention of a large audience. Semantic Technologies is supposed to create an (invisible) infrastructure, whereas Web2.0 creates highly visible applications for final users using the existing web, but with a significantly improved user interface (thanks to AJAX). This would also explain why there is disappointment with the Public Semantic Web (the large public hasn’t seen anything yet); whereas the Corporate Semantic Web is still peaking. Businesses see a huge benefit of, for example, better access to important corporate information in unstructured documents (Mike Lynch, CEO and Founder of Autonomy, estimates that 80% of corporate information is hidden in unstructured documents). Businesses are not interested in final user applications, but in promising technology that can help them to better manage their information.
    For me, one of the most striking achievements of Web2.0 is its capacity to involve large active user communities. Indeed, this has been a (happy) surprise. At the beginning of the Semantic Web effort, many of us were convinced that it would never be possible to annotate web content with (semantic) tags through human effort. Therefore, much research effort was dedicated to automatically generating annotations using advanced Natural Language Processing techniques. Web2.0 initiatives have shown this assumption to be false; it is possible to tag large amounts of multimedia and text documents by communities of people.

    Recently the term Web3.0 is getting popular, which refers –freely interpreted- to the combination of Web2.0 and the Semantic Web.

    My take on this is that we will hear much from Semantic Technologies in the context of corporations. The Public Semantic Web will regain strength in combination with Web2.0 aspects, strengthening the notion of Web3.0.

    Happy 2007!