SSSW Day 3

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Yeah, sure, the Summer School for the Semantic Web is over for quite a while now, and here I started to blog about it daily, and didn't manage to get over the first three days. Let's face it: it was too much! The program was so dense, the social events so enjoyable, I couldn't even spare half an hour a day to continue the blogging. Now I want to recap some of my notes and memories I have of the second half of the Summer School. My bad memory be damned - if you want to correct something feel free to do so.

This day's invited speaker was Roberto Basili of the University of Rome. He sketched the huge field of natural language processing, and although he illustrated the possible interactions between lexical knowledge bases and ontologies, he nevertheless made a strong distinction between these two. Words are not concepts. "The name should have no value for defining a concept." This is like "Don't look into URIs" for HLT-people. He made a very interesting point: abductions will become very important in the Semantic Web, as they model human thinking patterns much closer than strict deduction does. Up until this day I was quite against abductions, I discussed this issue very stubbornly in Granada. But Roberto made me aware of a slightly different viewpoint: just sell abductive resolutions as suggestions, as proposals to the user - et voilà, the world is a better place! I will have to think abou this a bit more some day, but he did made me think.

The theoretical sessions and workshops today were packed and strenuos: we jumped from annotations to Semantic Web Services and back again. Fabio Ciravegna of the University of Sheffield's NLP-Group, who created tools like Armadillo and GATE, gave us a thorough introduction to annotations for the Semantic Web and the usage of Human Language Technologies in order to enhance this task. He admitted that many of the tools are still quite unhandy, but he tried to make a point by saying: "No one writes HTML today anymore with a text editor like Emacs or Notepad... or do you?"
All students raised their hands. Yes, we do! "Well, in the real world at least they don't..."

He also made some critical comments on the developments of the Semantic Web: the technologies being developed right now allow for a today unknown ability of collecting and combining data. Does this mean, our technologies actually require a better world? One with no secrets, privacy and spam, because there is no need for such ideas? Is metadata just adding hay to the haystak instead of really finding the needle?

John Domingue's Talk on Semantic Web (Web) Services was a deep and profound introduction to the field, and especially to the IRS system developed by the KMi at Open University. He was defending WSMO valiantly, but due to time constraints pitily skipped the comparison with OWL-S. But he motivated the need for Semantic Web Services and sketched a possible solution.

The day ended in Cercedilla, where we besieged a local disco. I guess the people were hiding, "watch it, them nerds are coming!" ;) The music surprisingly old - they had those funny vinyl albums - but heck, Frank Sinatra is never outdated. But the 80s certainly are...

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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