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

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 ...