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2009 July

Archive for July, 2009

CFP: Semantics for the rest of us Workshop at 8th Int. Semantic Web Conference

July 9th, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in Conferences, iswc, OWL, RDF, Semantic Web, Web
Submissions 10 Aug 09
Notification 19 Aug 09
Final copy 2 Sept 09
Workshop 26 Oct 09

Semantics for the Rest of Us: Variants of Semantic Web Languages in the Real World is a workshop that will be held at the on 26 October 2009 in Washington, DC.

The Semantic Web is a broad vision of the future of personal computing, emphasizing the use of sophisticated knowledge representation as the basis for end-user applications’ data modeling and management needs. Key to the pervasive adoption of Semantic Web technologies is a good set of fundamental “building blocks” – the most important of these are representation languages themselves. W3C’s standard languages for the Semantic Web, RDF and OWL, have been around for several years. Instead of strict standards compliance, we see “variants” of these languages emerge in applications, often tailored to a particular application’s needs. These variants are often either subsets of OWL or supersets of RDF, typically with fragments OWL added. Extensions based on rules, such as SWRL and N3 logic, have been developed as well as enhancements to the SPARQL query language and protocol.

This workshop will explore the landscape of RDF, OWL and SPARQL variants, specifically from the standpoint of “real-world semantics”. Are there commonalities in these variants that might suggest new standards or new versions of the existing standards? We hope to identify common requirements of applications consuming Semantic Web data and understand the pros and cons of a strictly formal approach to modeling data versus a “scruffier” approach where semantics are based on application requirements and implementation restrictions.

The workshop will encourage active audience participation and discussion and will include a keynote speaker as well as a panel. Topics of interest include but are not limited to

  • Real world applications that use (variants of) RDF, OWL, and SPARQL
  • Use cases for different subsets/supersets of RDF, OWL, and SPARQL
  • Extensions of SWRL and N3Logic
  • RIF dialects
  • How well do the current SW standards meet system requirements ?
  • Real world “semantic” applications using other structured representations (XML, JSON)
  • Alternatives to RDF, OWL or SPARQL
  • Are ad hoc subsets of SW languages leading to problems?
  • What level of expressive power does the Semantic Web need?
  • Does the Semantic Web require languages based on formal methods?
  • How should standard Semantic Web languages be designed?

We seek two kinds of submissions: full papers up to ten pages long and position papers up to five pages long. Format papers according the ISWC 2009 instructions. Accepted papers will be presented at the workshop and be part of the workshop proceedings.


Journal of Web Semantics maintains high impact factor

July 6th, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in AI, Semantic Web, Web

Journal of Web SemanticsThe latest Journal Citation Reports (2009) published by Thomson Reuters shows that the Journal of Web Semantics continues to enjoy a very high impact factor. The 2008 measure was 3.023, which was the 12th highest out of the 94 journals in the category of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence.

Thomson Reuter’s journal impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The 2008 impact factor is computed as the citations received in 2008 to all articles published in 2006 and 2007, divided by the number of “source items” published in 2006 and 2007.

Wikipedia mobile launches for iPhone, Palm Pre, Android and Kindle

July 5th, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in Mobile Computing, Social media, Web, Wikipedia

wikipedia mobileWikipedia’s mobile site has been officially launched and running on a new server (in Ruby!).

Currently the site supports four mobile platforms: iPhone, Kindle, Android, and Palm Pre. Only the English and German versions are up, but support for more languages is said to be coming.

If you visit a Wikipedia page from a supported mobile device, you will be automatically redirected to the mobile version. You can click through to the regular page for editing or accessing other features not included in the mobile transcoding (e.g., history). You can also permanently disable the mobile redirects for your device, if you like.

You can get some idea how the page rendering is simplified in a non-mobile browser by looking at a page like But the device specific encoding makes this work much better for each device.

I like the way it looks on my Palm Pre, which differs from the iPhone encoding, and think it will make Wikipedia much more usable from it.

(via ReadWrteWeb)

ISWC 2009 student support

July 5th, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web

2009 International Semantic Web Conference
The US National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Semantic Web Science Association (SWSA) plan to contribute funds to support participation by full-time students in 2009 International Semantic Web Conference. SWSA and NSF anticipate providing 10,000€ and $20,000 respectively, with NSF funds being earmarked to support students enrolled at U.S. Universities. We anticipate that the SWSA funds will support 15 awards of 600-800€, and that the NSF funds will support 13 awards of approximately $1500.

Confirmation of the funding, as well as details on how to apply will be available on the ISWC 2009 Web site.

Last year’s student fellows made significant contributions to the conference, and we look forward to this year’s fellows being similarly engaged. In selecting applications for travel support, preference will be given to students selected to participate in the doctoral consortium, followed by students who are first author on a paper accepted at the conference, followed by students who have other authorship on a conference or workshop paper.

Applications are due August 21, with notification of success by September 7.

Direct questions to

DARPA names new director: Dr. Regina E. Dugan

July 2nd, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

DARPA director Regina E. Dugan The US DoD has announced the appointment of Regina E. Dugan as the 19th DARPA director. From the DoD Press Release:

“Prior to this appointment, Dugan held several key positions in industry, most recently as president and chief executive officer of RedXDefense, LLC, which she co-founded in 2005, a company that develops defense against explosive threats. She has also served in senior executive positions in several additional companies in roles ranging from global sales and marketing to research and product development.

During her first tour at DARPA from January 1996 to May 2000, Dugan received the program manager of the year award for her leadership of the “Dog’s Nose Program”, which was focused on the development of an advanced, field-portable system for detecting the explosive content of land mines.

She has participated in wide-ranging studies for the Defense Science Board, the Army Science Board, the National Research Council and Science Foundation, and currently sits on the Naval Research Advisory Committee and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Science and Technology Panel. Dugan earned her doctorate in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech. …”

NOSQL: distributed key-value data stores

July 2nd, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in Database, Semantic Web, Web

ComputerWorld has an article on the “nosql” movement and a recent nosql meetup held in San Francisco, No to SQL? Anti-database movement gains steam. Nosql systems are distributed, non-relational data stores that typically use a simple key-value approach to indexing and retrieving data and use a simple procedural query API rather than a sophisticated declarative query language.

“The inaugural get-together of the burgeoning NoSQL community crammed 150 attendees into a meeting room at CBS Interactive. Like the Patriots, who rebelled against Britain’s heavy taxes, NoSQLers came to share how they had overthrown the tyranny of slow, expensive relational databases in favor of more efficient and cheaper ways of managing data.

“Relational databases give you too much. They force you to twist your object data to fit a RDBMS [relational database management system],” said Jon Travis, principal engineer at Java toolmaker SpringSource, one of the 10 presenters at the NoSQL confab (PDF). NoSQL-based alternatives “just give you what you need,” Travis said.”

There were presentation on nine different ‘nosql’ databases: Voldemort, Cassandra, Dynomite, HBase, Hypertable, CouchDB, VPork, MongoDb as well as general presentations by Google’s Jonas Karlsson, and Cloudera’s Todd Lipcon.

Johan Oskarsson of wrote a debriefing post on his blog.

“The relatively young but rapidly growing “nosql” community met last Thursday in San Francisco. The idea was to give attendees a solid introduction to how distributed, non relational databases work as well as an overview of the various projects out there.”

and provides links to the presentation slides and videos. You can also search for NOSQL on Vimeo to get the videos.

I learned of this meeting on Hacker News, where you can find some interesting comments.

Of course their are many popular key-value stores that are not designed to support the highly-scalable distributed needs of many Web applications. I found, for example, that as a persistent RDF store for rdflib, Sleepycat out performed MySQL.

Changes in FaceBook default privacy policy

July 1st, 2009, by Tim Finin, posted in Privacy, Security, Social, Social media, Web

FaceBook is changing how it manages privacy starting today. After reading last week’s post on the FaceBook blog, More Ways to Share in the Publisher, and a followup note on ReadWriteWeb, A Closer Look at Facebook’s New Privacy Options, I thought I understood: Facebook was sharing more but only for people who have made their profiles public. From the official FaceBook post:

“We’ve received some questions in the comments about default privacy settings for this beta. Nothing has changed with your default privacy settings. The beta is only open to people who already chose to set their profile and status privacy to “Everyone.” For those people, the default for sharing from the Publisher will be the same. If you have your default privacy set to anything else—such as “Friends and Networks” or “Friends Only”—you are not part of this beta.”

But the New York Times has an article, The Day Facebook Changed: Messages to Become Public by Default that clearly says more is coming (emphasis added):

“By default, all your messages on Facebook will soon be naked visible to the world. The company is starting by rolling out the feature to people who had already set their profiles as public, but it will come to everyone soon. You’ll be able each time you publish a message to change that message’s privacy setting and from that drop down there’s a link to change your default setting.

But most people will not change the setting. Facebook messages are about to be publicly visible. A whole lot of people are going to hate it. When ex-lovers, bosses, moms, stalkers, cops, creeps and others find out what people have been posting on Facebook – the reprimand that “well, you could have changed your default setting” is not going to sit well with people.”

But it will come to everyone soon! That’s a big change if true. There will be blood.

I hope that there is come clarification soon from FaceBook. I, for one, am left confused.

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