Semantic Webinar: Part 1 Discover : The Attendees

Over 1,300 people registered for Part 1 of the Semantic Web Webinar Series: Discover the Semantic Web and both Christine Connors and myself were delighted with the attendance and the feedback we received!

Like Christine explained during our introduction, as attendee registrations were coming through we regularly reviewed the list, wanting to make sure that we were writing for our actual audience. What we found were strong numbers in three types of business role in particular – and happily for us, the three categories we most wanted to engage as part of this series as described below.

To further validate the attendees and get a feeling for where our enterprise customers are, during the webinar the first poll that we conducted was a simple one to record where attendees were in regards to their experience with semantic web. The following results are the aggregate of the two sessions:

When you think about Semantic Web, what is the first thought that pops into your head?
61.2 % > I am new to the Semantic Web and Interested in Learning More
26.4% > I am currently knowledgeable on the Semantic Web and would like to expand this knowledge
12.4% > I am currently involved in Semantics-related project in my company

Being that part one of the series was titled DIscover, the target level of expertise was perfect!

Looking through the final list of registered attendees, I took their titles and made the following Wordle to provide a visualization of the titles of the attendees. The word 'Manager' certainly appeared a lot (many times with additional information like "Manager of Information Center") as well as Director hence the larger presence of those terms, but here is what it looks like:

webinar attendees

The three categories we most wanted to engage as part of this series were the following categories and the majority of the attendees could be bucketed into them:

Library and Information Science Professionals
We had a good number of folks joining with library and information science backgrounds. Christine and I share that background, and Dow Jones is a great supporter of info pros . We believe that Librarians have a critical role to play in the future of the semantic web. The ability to provide access to comprehensive, annotated, carefully curated data in the highly collaborative environment that is the web has never been more vital. We can’t think of a profession more suited to the task. Nor can we think of anyone in our semweb social network who doesn’t love librarians!

Information Architects
Next had information architects – user experience designers, interaction designers, taxonomists – Big IA, Little IA – however you choose to define them people who are passionate about delivering easy to use interfaces between humans and information. And the bottom line? WE NEED YOU! The semantic web presents a new paradigm for data and tools. We need creative, practical people to think about new patterns for interacting with data on the web.

Business Champions
Finally, we had the business champions – executives, analysts, program managers. You may have heard that the semantic web is a solution in search of a problem. And as we will be covering in this Series of webinars, the semantic web is a potential solution for existing problems. We’ve seen this shift before: we didn’t need email – we had fax machines to move documents quickly while maintaining a paper trail. But we are willing to bet that you wouldn’t like it if they took away your inbox (well, permanently anyway!). Business Champions are doing their organizations a disservice if they simply dismiss a semantic solution. As we discussed in the webinar, put in in the mix of options to consider; occasionally it won’t yet work, sometimes it will be a stretch, but often it will be a perfect fit.

Missed Part 1: Discover? The Slide deck is embedded below and the recorded Webinar is also available on demand .

What's next?

We are preparing for Part II [registration info coming soon]-

Send us your requirements! Your use cases! Your challenges! We’re ready and waiting!

All Posts related to this 3 part series are available under the Semantic Web Webinar Series Topic of Interest.

A Map for the Semantic Web

A very interesting Flickr image came across my desktop this morning. It's a cool visual posted by Steve Jurvetson showing many of the different parts of the semantic web. I missed it the first time around, but the tiny copyright statement at the bottom of the original size indicates Tim Berners-Lee as the IP holder. Should be especially interesting to Tolkien fans! Mat to the Semantic Web

If you're interested in learning more about the semantic web, this is an interesting place to start - especially if you are a visual thinker. Do some searching on the topics mapped out here - Vannevar Bush, Logic (First and Second order logic), protocols and markup languages, RDF, OWL, GRDDL - whatever strikes your fancy. Let me know what you think!

Map to the Semantic Web on Flickr

Top 10 Reasons the Semantic Web is A Lot Like Love

This post is one day late since yesterday was Valentines Day- but nonetheless an entertaining one that i had to share because not only is it clever, i think it also has a lot of truths in it that outline some of the current challenges that the Semantic Web community is working with. Via Scott Brinker's "Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, Top 10 reasons the semantic web is a lot like love":

10. It means different things to different people.

9. Those in it can bore everyone else to death talking about it.

8. Cynics insist there's no such thing.

7. It's straightforward in theory, messy in practice.

6. A few misinterpreted words can really screw things up.

5. You can invest a lot and not get any return.

4. Some people claim it, but don't really have it.

3. Some people have it, but don't want to disclose it.

2. The more people involved, the more complicated it gets.

1. When it works, beautiful relationships are established.

Looks like Brinker will be giving a talk on semantic marketing and moderating a roundtable on semantic advertising at the 2009 Semantic Technology Conference, on June 14-18 in San Jose- so we look forward to meeting him there!

Powerhouse Museum

As promised during the webinar, the correct link for the museum! You can search and browse a portion of the collection held in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia. Browse around! Search, read, zoom - add tags! This is a site at which to have fun, learn new things, spark new thoughts.

View of Low Waterfall Over Rocks The team at the museum have made great use of readily available technologies and user generated content to augment the records and formal taxonomies that existed at the museum. Sites such as Flickr, tools such as OpenSearch, and licensing and use models from Creative Commons are combined to provide access to the data by as wide a variety of users as possible - users who become potential visitors; potential patrons. The design and interaction models are simple and elegant; the search and browse mechanisms are powerful; the images and image manipulation tools allow you to see great detail and experience the pieces wonderfully from afar.

If you are so inclined, I highly recommend you read through the "About" tab, and follow the links from there to the papers and blogs about how they've built the site. It's an interesting read, and a great way to be inspired - yet again - by those serving in institutions that preserve and promote our global heritage.

View of Low Waterfall Over Rocks, Powerhouse Museum Collection, The Commons on Flickr

Notes from A Session on Taxonomy Development and Digital Projects

20 degrees, light snow, 8:00 on a Sunday morning….and I’m about to do a presentation and hopefully lead a discussion on taxonomy development and digital projects for the Networked Resources and Metadata Interest Group at the ALA Midwinter conference . As I entered the area, there was only one other person and I thought that perhaps my worst fears had come true – that only the group chair and I would be present! Soon however, additional people began to arrive and by the time we wrapped up the presentation and discussion there were about 40 people present. My presentation covered definitions and examples of controlled vocabularies, from simple lists up to and including ontologies. Examples and pros and cons of each type were presented and discussed. The uses of controlled vocabularies in search and navigation were also presented and discussed. The presentation concluded with more in depth information on term structure, term relationships, notation and other general considerations when developing taxonomies and controlled vocabularies. The slide deck I used is embedded below and it is also available from the ALA conference wiki .

Following the presentation we had about a 30 minute discussion on aspects of the presentation as well as how we use and develop controlled vocabularies for clients in the Dow Jones Taxonomy Services group. There was a good discussion on the differences in the way libraries use vocabularies and do vocabulary development and the way commercial enterprises use controlled vocabularies and taxonomies. Thanks to all the attendees for your participation! please contact me with questions at

Upcoming Webinar: Part 1 Discover the Semantic Web

Please join us for Part 1 of a 3 part Webinar titled Discover the Semantic Web.

Date : Thursday, February 12, 2009
Times: 10:00 a.m.EST/ 7amPST OR 2:00 p.m. EST / 11am PST
Duration: 60 minutes

This webinar will focus on how organizations consume, digest, and share news and information. What we are seeing in the corporate space is that the Semantic Web is no longer 'ahead of its time' and therefore it has the potential to rapidly change how your organization manages, delivers, consumes, shares and produces content.

During Part I of this series you can learn how Semantic Web Technologies enable you to:

* Re-use valuable information to save costs in today's budget-cutting environment
* Facilitate easier collaboration and sharing of critical information across your business
* Increase search relevancy and surface the most valuable information needed to remain competitive

Christine Connors and myself will be conducting this free webinar and we welcome everyone who is interested in the subject to join us.

Who are we?

Christine Connors is the global director, semantic technology solutions for the Enterprise Media Group at Dow Jones and Company. In this position, she manages a worldwide team that is responsible for the development of taxonomies and metadata that are used to add value to Dow Jones news and financial information products, and a US-based team of software developers who support the Synaptica® software application. She also supports Dow Jones consulting practices, based in the Americas, Europe and Asia, which deliver end-to-end information access solutions based on taxonomy, metadata and semantic technologies.
You can learn more about Christine Connors or you can read some of her other blog posts on Synaptica Central .

I am the business development manager responsible for Dow Jones Taxonomy Services and Synaptica here at Dow Jones. I work with both small and large companies to deploy information strategies, including helping customers develop and manage their controlled vocabularies- from developing strategies and sharing best practices to doing custom taxonomy development.

More about me here or you can read some of my other blog posts on Synaptica Central or on my personal blog .

Leslie Owens' Forrester Report: How To Build A High-Octane Taxonomy For ECM And Enterprise Search Systems

We all know that building controlled vocabularies in enterprise settings is not simply a nice (fun?) intellectual effort. The point is to deliver value to the enterprise, whether it’s aiding in realizing revenue or ensuring full utilization of knowledge assets. In “How to Build a High-Octane Taxonomy for ECM and Enterprise Search Systems” (Forrester Nov 2008 free with registration), Leslie Owens presents a strong discussion of exactly how to go about building that “taxonomy” for your enterprise.

First and foremost, you should never engage in a “taxonomy” project in a vacuum. Ultimately, it’s all about context and knowing that context! Owens echoes this belief. We work closely with our clients to first clearly define and document the business objectives and ensure the project’s objectives are aligned with the enterprise’s objectives. The work must be done within the context of a specific set of business objectives and goals. Then we work with our clients to identify the systems which will utilize the controlled vocabularies. What are their constraints? How will they process the information? How might they display the information and surface the controlled vocabularies for the users? Speaking of users, they are the third aspect of context which we have front of mind as we work with our clients to initiate these long-term efforts. Who are they, what is their level of knowledge about the content and its use, why are they using the systems to be enhanced, how do they do their work and how do they think about the content base(s), etc.

Owens presents a good, but academic, discussion regarding the techniques for building controlled vocabularies. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which techniques are employed or in what combination you use them as long as you’re effective and the outcome is a controlled vocabulary which can be deployed, maintained and re-used for long-term business value. In our experience, most engagements involve utilizing a hybrid of techniques in an iterative process. It’s not worth getting caught up in labeling the technique (even for those of us often referred to as “the word police”).

If you’re considering initiating a “taxonomy” program within your enterprise, or you’re already well down the road, we strongly recommend reading Owens’s report. You will glean good information to guide you in your process. One last thought I would leave you with; no matter how “simple” you think this effort is, it should not be undertaken believing it is a “once and done” project. You are initiating a long-term program which should always remain as an active component in your ECM, search, knowledge management, or whatever larger appropriate program.

Enterprise Finding with the Semantic Web

[note:this post was originally posted on my personal blog ]

Very similar to the possible benefits of the Semantic Web in what i like to call the research 'finding' environment in corporate enterprises and perhaps one of the most illustrative examples of the value of the Semantic Web i have seen in a while, this post titled Semantic Web in Education by Jason Ohler a professor of Educational Technology and Distance Learning at the University of Alaska paints a illustrative picture of some of the values end-users/consumers can derive from the Semantic Web. Flip it from an education research environment that Olhler is addressing to an enterprise finding environment and you have an interesting use case for why enterprises should look closely at the promise of the semantic web.

"One vision of a well-developed semantic web includes a search feature that would return a multimedia report rather than a list of hits. The report would draw from many sources, including websites, articles from scientific repositories, chapters in textbooks, blog dialogue, speeches posted on YouTube, information stored on cell phones, gaming scenarios played out in virtual realities-anything appropriate that is accessible by the rules of Web 3.0. The report would consist of short sections that coalesce around knowledge areas that emerged naturally from your research, with keywords identified and listed conveniently off to one side as links.

The information in the report would be compared, contrasted, and collated in a basic way, presenting points of agreement and disagreement, and perhaps associating these with political positions or contrasting research. Because the web knows something about you, it also alerts you to local lectures on related topics, books you might want to read, TV programs available through your cable service, blog discussions you might find relevant, and even local groups you can contact that are also focused on this issue. Unlike a standard report, what you receive changes as the available information changes, and you might have wiki-like access to add to or edit it. And because you told your agent that this topic is a high priority, your cell phone will beep when a significant development occurs. After all, the semantic web will be highly inclusive, providing a common language for many kinds of media and technologies, including cell phones. The net result, ideally, is that you spend less time searching and sifting and more time absorbing, thinking, and participating."

Starting in February, Christine Connors and I will be conducting a three part Webinar titled 'Discover the Semantic Web' that will address some of these enterprise specific opportunities to leverage the Semantic Web.


Taxonomy Development Discussion at ALA

Our global taxonomy consultants are always willing and ready to participate in conferences, local meetings and any other get togethers that they can get to and they often are asked to participate and lead discussions/presentations around different topics. (of course when they are not working on client engagements!!)
ALA At this year's ALA Midwinter 2009 (American Library Association) meeting as part of the Networked Resources and Metadata Interest Group (NRMIG) there will be a discussion on taxonomy development on Sunday, January 25, from 8-10 a.m.The discussion will be led by our very own Laura Dorricott.
Laura DorricottLaura is a Project Delivery Manager in our Dow Jones Taxonomy Services group and has many years of experience doing taxonomy and indexing projects including Taxonomy/thesaurus assessment, development and design.

Over on the Metadata Blog , the official blog of the Networked Resources and Metadata Interest Group (NRMIG), they are requesting input in advance on topics that should be covered- so if you are attending or have some 'remote' thoughts for Laura feel free to add your comments either here or there!

A request was already added by Diane Hillmann that she would " like to hear Laura discuss the differences she sees in the way libraries view vocabularies and vocabulary development and the way commercial entities view these issues. Is there something we can learn from those differences? I'd also like to hear a bit about how the commercial sector evaluates return on investment for this kind of development.".

Sounds like a great discussion and i can't wait for Laura's report from the field!

Global Report on the State of Blogging Librarians

Many readers of the SynapticaCentral blog are not professional librarians - but some of us are so i am sharing with you something that i just published on my personal blog that you might find interesting around the state of blogging Librarians around the world.

Librarians are no strangers to the blogging world and some of the earliest blogs i personally started to followed where indeed written by Librarians. The Librarian in Black blog by Sarah Houghton-Jan a Digital Futures Manager for the San José Public Library is definitely one that i have been keeping an eye on in a Library topic folder in my RSS reader over the years and always find interesting and valuable information.

Recently Sarah wrote a post on her blog that caught my attention about a new book published by LibWorld titled "Library Blogs Worldwide" in which she has written a chapter covering the United States Library blogging community (page 187).

The book was published via the Infobib LibWorld project and is available as a free download or a paperback from Lulu online publishers.

It offers thirty commentaries by local librarians on the state of library-related blogs in 29 countries! The forward by Walt Crawford provides a good summary of the volume and diversity that global library blogs offer.

In Sarah's chapter she asks the question "which came first, the librarian blog or the library blog?" She writes that the librarian did because they "began sharing information with each other and as more of us saw the power of the blogging medium, we began adopting the same techniques at work.". I agree with that answer and it probably mimics a lot of other industries and professions who have adopted blogging as part of their work 'duties' in the same manner.

Another good resource for comprehensive lists of blogs is the Blogging Libraries Wiki and an output of the LibWorld report is available from the LibWorld delicious account where they have tagged all the blogs mentioned in the book by country.

We should think about putting together a comprehensive book that cover global bloggers who are taxonomists, ontologists and linguistists !