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Posts tagged with: confoto

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 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
  • 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?

At ISWC 2005

I am back at Galway, attending ISWC 2005
/me is back at Galway, attending ISWC 2005. Murphy is again with me this time, my SPARQL store exploded last week, my posters were destroyed during shipping, the plane had a power outage, almost missed my connecting flight, plus the usual chaos ;)

But I'm here now, everything is just as expected (storm and rain) and hope is getting back to have a new version of CONFOTO up by tomorrow's Demo/SemWebChallenge session. I didn't manage to finish some of the more fancy features I had in mind (such as drag 'n' drop annotation), but I've got a nice new UI (you may notice that I'm a mac user now ;), and I'm going to introduce an RDF shopping cart which allows you to export resource descriptions collected during browsing photos and events.

w3photo scutterplans, picture RDF/XML, and conference dumps

w3photo data export and conversion
Greg Elin did an amazing job for last year's WWW conference. Together with Bryce Benton, he implemented the w3photo site and also went to NYC to present and promote the project. Last year's focus was on getting the site up and collecting photos, and although we provided basic RDF export, w3photo data wasn't really accessible for re-use. We didn't manage to continue the project for WWW 2005, but I'm confident that there'll be a project update by the next conference. One of the first tasks is to make the w3photo data available so that the annotations can be integrated in new tools more easily. It would be great to see multiple annotators and viewers with data exchanged or cross-sparqled online. I'm also looking forward to combining w3photo data with conference information and FOAF files of attendees. I started to write some scripts and converters for the w3photo data yesterday, basically to get more pictures into CONFOTO, but of course also for other SemWebbers.


w3photo provides news feeds for each conference (e.g. WWW 2003 feed), but only in an RSS 2.0 format and with links pointing to HTML pages. So, the first task was to convert these feeds into scutterplans. It's straight-forward to get the metadata location from an image URL (by simply replacing the file extension), the problem is that there are some bugs in the RDF/XML stored at Therefore the scutterplans generated by my script (e.g. WWW 2003 scutterplan) don't point at the w3photo site but at a clean-up script which tries to return valid RDF/XML. I also tried to make sure that empty or broken feeds (e.g. the WWW 5 feed 404s) don't lead to broken scutterplans. If you omit the &conf=foo parameter, a scutterplan for all available conferences will be returned.

Adjusted picture RDF/XML

The clean-up script does some basic XML cosmetics, tries to remove syntax bugs, and partly adjusts the RDF/XML for better re-purposing (example):
  • ' attribute delimiters are replaced with "
  • the w3photo stylesheet link is removed
  • the outdated mindswap conference ontology namespace is replaced with the stable one ("~golbeck/web" -> "2004")
  • relative URIs and rdf:IDs are adjusted to absolute URIs and rdf:abouts (so that photo details can be aggregated in a single dump file)
  • photo paths are normalized (e.g. "photos/ww2003/photos/" -> "photos/www2003/"), so that the scutterplans and photo details use the same picture URLs
  • cc:Agent is changed to foaf:Agent (not 100% sure about that, can undo that if wanted)
  • conf:Event is changed to conf:Conference
  • fotonotes:label in regions is changed to dc:description
  • CDATA delimiters are removed
  • foaf:homepages to identify annotators are removed (many people used shared company homepage addresses which would lead to unwanted resource consolidations)
  • the Creative Commons license URIs are updated to version 2.5
  • empty tags are removed
  • &s in literals are changed to &s
  • XML comments are removed
  • the annotation creation date is adjusted (e.g. "2004-Jun-01T00:02:06EDT" -> "2004-06-01T04:02:06Z")
  • imreg:regionDepicts information is removed as it contained redundant rdf:IDs
  • confoto:eventShortName, confoto:eventYear, foaf:name, and dc:date are added to conference nodes.
  • ical:url is adjusted to the conference homepage and replaced with foaf:homepage (now that the domain of foaf:homepage was broadened)
  • the person name in unqualified w3photoRDF region tags is extracted and re-added as dc:subject
  • unqualified and fotonotes tags are removed
  • broken unicode characters are adjusted
  • the year of the conference is added as dc:date to the foaf:Image node
  • the conference name is added as dc:subject to the foaf:Image

w3photo dumps

I actually don't have a scutter running at CONFOTO, data is usually added online by users. In order not to have to import each photo's data one by one, I added a dump generator to the w3photo converter. Via the parameter ?view=dump (e.g. ?view=dump&conf=www2003), it's possible to get the complete photo data of a conference. The caching mechanism should keep the response times low, however, it may take some time to generate large dumps (the script doesn't send more than 1 request/second to Greg's server). If you get timeouts, just wait a couple of seconds and try again. CONFOTO saves temporary results and can continue from there.

Hm, either my SPARQL2SQL rewriter or CONFOTO's query generator needs more work, retrieving photos after adding a conference filter takes ages, while the tag filter works without problems. However, it should now be possible to retrieve photo data via the server's SPARQL endpoint.

XTech remixed and remote access to

Remixing XTech data.

Step 1: Converting the schedule

I'm following Edd Dumbill's call to remix the XTech schedule. I wrote a little xml parser for the input file and converted the data to RDF/XML. The remixed schedule is based on RDFical (the version without datatyped timezones), Dublin Core, FOAF and Jen Golbeck's conference ontology.

Step 2: RDF/XML import

So, let's see what the machine-readable data is good for: is a semantic photo service for Web conference pictures. It can't compete with flickr (by no means), but it allows you to add "rich" annotations to photos. It's also not required to upload your files, you can simply post a list of URLs to confoto or, if you are a SemWebber, you can tell confoto where to find your already RDFized photo descriptions.

As we know, metadata doesn't come for free. Flat, tag-based approaches taken by or flickr are currently a huge success, and any tool adding complexity beyond simple tagging could possibly shy away potential users. However, folksonomies are limited, they only define a basic relation between the tag and the annotated resource. With confoto, I'm trying to combine simple tagging with more advanced annotations. For tags I'm following Libby Miller's pigsty approach and use dc:subject literals. For the more sophisticated stuff (creator, event, rating, license) I tried to hide complexity in the UI, keeping the annotation process simple (and metadata cheap). And with an AJAX-like* extension it was possible to add several interactive form elements to the annotator. This brings us back to the XTech data. Using the imported information, we can accelerate annotation tasks as outlined below.
* My stuff is actually AJAI - Asynchronous JavaScript and Iframe ;)

Step 3: Using XTech data in confoto

Let's say you take a picture of Dave Beckett giving his "Bootstrapping RDF applications with Redland" talk. The photo is already uploaded to your own server, so you use confoto's "Link remote images" form and start annotating.

confoto img link form
The upload/link-forms allow you to group-annotate photos with basic information such as the depicted conference, the license for photo re-use, or tags.

Once you've uploaded or linked your photos, you can switch to the photo browser and check, if the thumbnail and the basic annotations were created correctly (Don't be surprised if you encounter bugs, I started working on the site less than two weeks ago). Clicking on the thumbnail will display a photo summary from where you can access the annotator, which is split into 5 sections.

confoto annotator
The "Essentials" tab is for flickr-like quick annotations such as title, tags, and description. If you don't want to add more information, fine. & Co have demonstrated how a lot can be achieved with just basic metadata. Likewise, you can use confoto's photo browser to generate galleries based on simple tags defined by you or other users.

For a linked XTech image it would be interesting to add more precise stuff, though, and it's time to finally benefit from the remixed schedule data. So you select the "Persons" tab which will bring up another form where you can define people depicted by the photo. In order to say that your photo doesn't just depict "a" Dave Beckett but the Dave Beckett, the one presenting Redland at XTech, you need at least one identifying property. Luckily, Edd has added encoded mailbox URIs to the XTech schedule, so after entering the first letters we can simply pick an entry from the list of matching persons and are done.

confoto agent type-ahead
The same type-ahead feature can be used to find conference-related events. confoto allows you to define a main event (e.g. XTech) and a sub-event (e.g. a talk)
confoto event type-ahead

Step 4: Instant gratification

The updated photo summary will show available annotations and generate links to related resource descriptions. You can for example open the "depicts David Beckett" link in the [wl resource browser], where the "Incoming relations" tab will bring you to a detailed description of the XTech talk.

You can also generate a gallery of XTech pictures or a gallery of photos tagged with "redland". Or you may subscribe to custom galleries with RSS 1.0 readers, too, as photos are ordered by date.

What else?

Are you a SemWebber? At the bottom of each page, you'll find an "rdf/xml" link which points to a machine-readable version of the currently generated gallery or photo summary. And if the gallery filters are still too restrictive for you, you may try the (experimental) SPARQL interface (some SPARQL endpoint details). Oh, and MGETs on photo URIs should work as well.

That's it for the moment. Now have fun and kill the low-level server this is all running on ;)
Credits to the gargonza crowd for illustrating various SPARQL endpoint/protocol details. That helped me a lot. And thanks in advance for adding some photos and annotations to - Semantic Web photo annotation and browsing

Online service for RDF-based conference photo annotation and browsing
Give it a try if you like. It was planned as a w3photo 2005 update for this year's WWW conference, but I didn't make it in time. So I renamed it to confoto, hoping for some pictures of upcoming events (namely XTech and ESWC 2005) which I won't be able to attend.

RDF export and SPARQLy access for gargonza experiments are in the works, but I have to focus on some other urgent projects first.

Main features:
  • image upload
  • image linking (no upload needed)
  • rdf/xml import (descriptions of images, persons, events, etc.)
  • photo browser and resource browser
  • multilingual photo annotator (title, keywords, rating, depicted persons, event, rights)
  • Type-ahead for person- and event-search

It's hosted on a shared Web server (finally testing OWLchestra and ARC in a real-world environment). So the system is not that performant, but hopefully still usable.


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