This week a couple of us have been at ESWC2017 in Portoroz, Slovenia. Eva Blomqvist was the general chair of the conference this year, hence, this was the culmination of a whole year of hard work for her. Olaf Hartig is the proceedings chair (proceedings part 1 and 2). He could not attend the conference this year, but has done great job with the Springer proceedings, and the upcoming post-proceedings volume with poster and demo papers among other things. In addition to this, Karl Hammar, was one of the organisers of the Modular Ontology Modeling with Ontology Design Patterns tutorial, together with Pascal Hitzler, Adila A. Krisnadhi, Agnieszka Lawrynowicz and Monika Solanki. In particular, Karl ran the hands-on session with his tool for ODP-based modelling in WebProtégé (called XDP). Finally, Henrik Eriksson, presented our EU-funded project VALCRI in the project networking session, and in the poster session.
The overall conference was interesting as always, and included a lot of networking opportunities, as well as interesting work to take a closer look at. A quick summary of some of the major events:
Kevin Crosbie, from Ravenpack, the first keynote speaker talking about how to model events in order to use them for predicting financial markets. Very interesting talk, describing how Ravenpack work with their data products and apply technologies very similar to Semantic Web, although technically not using the W3C standards, such as RDF.
At the end of the first day, Aldo Gangemi chaired a panel about the future of academic publishing, discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It is clear that something needs to be done about both the reviewing situation in our field, the open access issue, and we want more focus on “eating our own dog food”. The discussions were also related to the paper that later won the best student paper award, on Linked Data Notifications.
Second keynote speaker, John Sheridan, from the National Archives in the UK, described how the National Archives heavily rely on Semantic Web technologies and standards to solve their archiving tasks. However there are also challenges of course, which can hopefully be solved by working together: academia and society at large. Particularly interesting for us at LiU to hear that the National Archives is in great need of a better solution for modelling trust and uncertainty in their data, which could be a potential use case for the recent research results on RDF* and SPARQL* by Olaf Hartig.
Nice conference dinner at the beach, and a chance for the general chair to thank all the people in the organising committee.
Poster session with lots of interesting interactions and discussion, here with Diego Reforgirato, who later won both the best poster and best demo awards.
Unfortunately, we did not take any picture of the last keynote, Lora Aroyo, who gave a very interesting keynote on the last day. She started with an overview of the evolution of the field, pointing out that studying and using people to acquire knowledge has always been a central part of our research. However, by over simplifying, and trying to fit every answer into yes/no categories, we can introduce wrong conclusions. She means that we need to be aware of ambiguity and diversity in opinions, that there is usually not one true answer, and instead turn that to our advantage. Lora showed a vector-based model to represent diversity in opinions.
Finally, Aldo Gangemi will be the next general chair of ESWC in 2018, and he made a series of interesting promises for the next year, among others: double-open review process, improvements in the online pre-prints of the proceedings and the dataset, a resources track and an industry session á la ISWC, and better music in the social events. We all wish him the best of luck with the next conference, and we are excited to see all the innovations next year!