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SemTech2009

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New York Times announce. NYT to Release Thesaurus. For nearly 100 years, we have maintained a thesaurus to tag The New York Times.

NYT to Release Thesaurus

The thesaurus consists of more than a million terms organized into five controlled vocabularies: subjects, personal names, organizations, geographic locations and the titles of creative works (books, movies, plays, etc). At last week’s Semantic Technology Conference, we announced our intention to publish The New York Times thesaurus under a license that will allow the community to both use it and contribute back to it. The results will, in time, prepare The Times to enter the linked data cloud.

Evan SandhausNew York Times and the Linked Data Cloud Releasing the Times thesaurus is consistent with our TimesOpen strategy. Microsoft (Powerset) Wolfram. At the recent SemTech conference in San Jose, I sat down with Wolfram|Alpha's Russell Foltz-Smith.

Wolfram

Wolfram|Alpha bills itself as a "computational knowledge engine," a nerdy and unfortunately not very intuitive description. Because it's hard to grok, most people have categorized Wolfram|Alpha as a new type of search engine. The site got a lot of press when it launched in May, as many pundits saw it as a challenger to Google.

However in our own extensive tests of the product before launch, we concluded that it isn't a "Google Killer" and that it has more in common with Wikipedia. Even now there is still confusion about what Wolfram|Alpha is and what its main use cases will be. Wolfram|Alpha: What is it Good For? Semantic Web Gang. Back in May, I mentioned that the Semantic Web Gang podcast for June would be coming – live – from the stage of this year’s Semantic Technology Conference.

Semantic Web Gang

Well, we did it, and it was a lot of fun. And as I mention during the session, being able to see the panel made my job as moderator far easier than it usually is on the telephone. I shared some of my views on this site soon after the event, but think you’ll like the range of opinions and insights from regular Gang members, participants in our audience, and conference organiser Tony Shaw. Have a listen, and see what you think. As well as generating our regular audio podcast, the event organisers were kind enough to also video the session, and publish the video on their site. In fact, there’s a nice set of resources from the conference taking shape over on the Semantic Universe site; take a look and see video from the Linked Data Panel (another of the sessions I moderated), the keynote sessions and more.

Related In "Linked Data" Ivan’s impressions. The first and possibly most important aspect of SemTech 2009 is that… it happened!

Ivan’s impressions

I must admit that back in April-May, when the conference’s Web Site did not include any news of the program yet, I was a bit concerned that the general economic malaise would kill this year’s conference. O.k., I might have been paranoiac, but I think some level of concern was indeed legitimate. And… not only did the conference happen as planned, but the numbers were essentially the same as last year’s (over 1000). I think that by itself is an important sign of the interest in Semantic Technologies.

Kudos to the organizers! A general trend that was reaffirmed this year: by now, Semantic Web technologies are the obvious reference points for almost all presentations, products, etc, that were presented at the event. Tom Tague (from Open Calais) gave a very nice opening keynote. Tom Gruber talked about his newest project: SIRI. Reflections on SemTech 2009 - W3C Q&A Weblog. SemTech 2009, along with W3C’s significant participation in it, is now behind us.

Reflections on SemTech 2009 - W3C Q&A Weblog

Besides catching upon on emails, I have spent the past week reflecting on the enthusiasm, presentations, and flurry of activities that constituted this year’s event in San Jose, 14 to 18 June. One strong feeling I had while in San Jose, was a sense of /deja vu/ in the Web world. Stepping back, I realize that 2009 feels a lot like 1999 when I was consulting with Allaire (remember CFML and ColdFusion?) And attended their user group meetings teaming with enthusiastic Web developers with war stories about their successes and failures bringing Web development servers into organizations of all types and sizes.

In 1999 there was also a wide cross-section of skill sets and diversity of understanding about what the Web was, how it worked, and what people and tools to trust to bring one’s vision onto the Web. We fast forward to 2009 and see similar dynamics with Semantic Web technologies. RDF visualization with Flex. SMOB - A Framework for Semantic Microblogging.