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ISWC 2005 - After the storm

CONFOTO won the Semantic Web Challenge!
appmosphere geek wear I'm back at Essen where I proudly presented my heavy SemWeb Challenge plate. But even without this icing on the (layer?) cake, the conference was simply amazing. I met lots of SemWebbers I wanted to meet for quite some time now, and also several people I wouldn't have expected to meet, although I skipped most of the social events (desperately trying to get my stuff up and running for the "Posters 'n' Demos" session). I received very nice feedback for my SPARQLy UI bits, and it's been the first time that people looked at my name badge with an "Ah, that's you". 2005 was a hard year for me and my little startup, but ISWC was a true energizer and finally gave me the feeling of heading in the right direction. The year isn't over yet, but this looks like a good opportunity for some credits and thank-yous.

So, kudos to:
  • @semantics (esp. Libby Miller and Zac Bjelogrlic) for life-saving jobs
  • @semantics (again) for their Gargonza experiment, which helped me get started with my SPARQL protocol implementation
  • Steve Harris for sharing some 3store experiences with me when I encountered what he called "combinatorial explosion" in CONFOTO. Thanks also to Libby for invaluable related pointers, and Dave Beckett for encouraging me to ask Steve directly. Without this help, I definitely wouldn't have been able to present worky apps on top of a new SPARQL store only 10 days later. #swig citizens++ (And I won't tell anyone that Steve replied to my mail even on a weekend.)
  • Yura for re-plotting my destroyed posters the evening before I left for the conference
  • Stefan Decker for funding my trip to Galway
  • Richard Cyganiak for an inspiring dialogue about mySQL-related SPARQL implementation issues, which became incredibly helpful when I had to redesign my store,
  • The w3photo project team and contributors. CONFOTO is largely based on w3photo data, the app is a direct continuation of last year's work
  • Danny Ayers for also working on "bringing semantics to the end user". His blog posts are a constant source of inspiration.
  • Ubbo Visser and Michel Klein for running the Semantic Web Challenge. This thing is so well-organised, with reminders, instant help, suggestions, etc, that it really deserves many many more submissions. They even managed to get our application descriptions included in the printed conference proceedings. And there *is* still a lack of end-user semweb apps, so contributing to the challenge makes a lot of sense.
  • everyone who added photos to CONFOTO, used it, and/or sent feedback (or congratulations ;). App updates to follow.
  • Susanne for still letting me do all this stuff!

An interesting experience when attending conferences and starting to communicate with other people in real life: TODO lists grow alarmingly fast. Some things for me chief procrastination officer:
  • make ARC store available (looks like a a simple SPARQL kit could attract even some non-RDF (Web 2.0)ers to "those semantics")
  • finish CONFOTO (as a start: full annotators for photos, people, events, remix tools, custom sparqlets)
  • upgrade semanticweb.org to the new ARC store, add missing annotators and a (better) query cache
  • provide better/more hooks for piggybank to auto-discover CONFOTO metadata
  • build a downloadable SKOS authoring environment from the concept/topic editing tools I'm using at semanticweb.org
  • shrink-wrap CONFOTO to a free, downloadable photo annotator
  • document how the sparqlets (are supposed to) work. Ideally, publish the AJAX-y UI stuff as a re-usable, lightweight SPARQL Template Engine ("SPATE"?)
oh well, did I say "after" the storm?

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