2010: Big year for semantics

Real initiatives in semantics announced in the first month of the year.

Interesting to read Palisano’s (head of IBM) comments:

“We are amassing an unimaginable amount of data in the world. In just three years, [internet] traffic is expected to total more than half a zettabyte. That’s a trillion gigabytes – or a one followed by 21 zeroes,” he tells industry, academic and political leaders.

“Where we once inferred, we now know. Where we once interpolated and extrapolated, we can now determine. The historical is giving way to the real-time and it’s not just about volume and velocity. The nature of the data we are collecting and analysing is changing, too.

“All this data is far more real-time than ever before. Most of us today, as leaders and as individuals, make decisions based on information that is backward-looking and limited in scope. That’s the best we had, but that is quickly changing.”

This just reinforces my previous blog of June 2009: here.

And this week we had the official launch in the UK of its government linked open data site.

We’ve seen the debate – back and forth – about linked open data.  We’ve seen the debate about top down v. bottom up approaches to semantics.  We’ve seen the arguments about the merits of RDF as against other frameworks.  But the volumes of data continue to increase – as does participation in social networks.

On a daily basis we see announcement about new products.  Nova Spivack tells us that the days of ‘Search’ are running out – we need ‘Help’ not ‘Search’.  We eagerly await his Twine 2.0.  We have seen significant product advancements announced this month in products such as Open Calais and Open Amplify.  One other product which caught my eye last week is Kngine.

Products such as Amplify aim to deal with the ‘tricky’ content – e.g. the ‘opinions’ implicit in content of social networks.   And this is a key element of what we are looking for: context for the content.  I am more interested in information on a particular subject when I understand the context, the perspective of the provider of the information.  I also want the richness of analysis possible through the combination of wider sources of data – including data compiled by government agencies which should be available to me.  Linked open data initiatives are required in all countries.  For Ireland – the sooner the better, if we consider ourselves a smart economy or a knowledge society.

Ireland serious about research

Universities to the fore in R&D

Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, executive director of the SFI-funded Crann CSET, makes the case in The Irish Times for the continued ongoing investment in R&D, coordinated between Irish Universities and Irish and multinational industry.

Dr O’Brien rightly distinguishes between the concrete benefits in terms of successful  projects and the benefit of encouraging the more generic culture of research and entrepreneurship.

Article includes several interesting examples of recent initiatives.

Reading the newspaper

Reading newspapers in harcopy or online – quality of experience

Read a great deal more newspapers (hard copy) over the Christmas holiday period than I would tend to on a day to day basis.  This week was back into reading them online – using the facilities of the relevant websites, browser software and various plugins to focus on what was of direct relevance.

I have commented previously on the social dimension of reading a physical newspaper in, say, family surrounds as against sitting at a laptop reading whatever. I’m struck more than ever by the difference.  Don’t get me wrong – online reading makes it so easy to forward anything of interest to another online contact or to add it to your library (I use zotero).  But, in the immediate community, it seems a lot less interesting and a lot less sociable.

I have also noticed that the various online versions of the newspapers have been designed to be efficient, searchable, referenceable – but perhaps in striving for this have lost the feel/ charm of a newspaper.

Wonder how others feel.