Category Archives: Galway

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New BE/MEngSc in Engineering Innovation – Electronic from NUI Galway

NUI Galway‘s College of Engineering & Informatics is now offering a new course titled “Engineering Innovation – Electronic“. This course will provide graduates with specialised multi-disciplinary skills to start their own business, centered on the development of innovative, niche, market-led, electronic products. The programme is composed of three multi-disciplinary strands, with the formation of an Electronic Engineer at its core. The three strands are:

  • Electronic Engineering
  • Business & Finance
  • Design & Innovation

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You can view our brand new brochure for GY412, and find out more about the course from the NUI Galway course page for GY412. The course is being run by the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Cairnes School of Business & Economics.

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Prize winners visualise Irish online life in the boards.ie SIOC Data Competition

The winners of the SIOC (pronounced “shock”) data competition being run by DERI at the National University of Ireland, Galway have been announced. The competition ran from September to October 2008, and the brief was to produce an interesting creation based on a data set of discussion posts reflecting ten years of Irish online life from boards.ie, Ireland’s largest community website. The competition had about sixty registrants and there were eight final submissions of very high quality.


First prize

The top winning submission was entitled “SIOC.ME: A Real-Time Interactive Visualisation of boards.ie Semantic Data within a 3-D Space”. The entry illustrates how 3-D visualisations may be harnessed to not only provide an interactive means of presenting or browsing data but also to create useful data analysis tools, especially for manipulating the “semantic” (meaningful) data from online communities and social networking sites. The entry was submitted by Darren Geraghty, a user interface and interaction designer, and it was praised by the judges for the huge amount of effort that went into creating it. A video of the application may be viewed here and a demonstration of the tool can be seen at go.sioc.me.


Second prize

In second place was a visualisation application called “boardsview” by Stephen Dolan of Trinity College Dublin. This is an interactive, real-time animation where one can watch the historical content from many discussion forums changing in real or compressed time. In this application, you can zoom into a particular forum to see individual users posting messages or to see threads being created and destroyed.


Third prize

Third prize was awarded to the “Forum Activity Graph” by Drew Perttula from California. This entry was a visualisation showing the popularity of forums on boards.ie as represented by coloured rivers of information, which were then rendered and displayed using Google Maps.

Other final submissions included:

  • Forum Map Demonstration” by Tristan Webb and Ian Dickinson of HP Labs Bristol, a demonstration of self-organising maps applied to an information navigation problem in a big community site,
  • WebThere: Semantic APML Profiles” by Brian MacKay from Pennsylvania, a service for creating and maintaining profiles of user interests and attention preferences in social websites,
  • Find Something Interesting” by ITT Dublin’s Alexandra Roshchina and Aleksey Kharkov, an application to provide recommendations of the most interesting posts and threads based on interest-matching and graph-mining techniques,
  • ChartBoards” by Martin Harrigan of TCD, a tool for examining community trends via term frequencies, and,
  • Visualising the boards.ie Community Culture with Charts” by Eoin McLoughlin of TCD, where various graph types were used to simplify the huge amount of available community data to something that could allow someone to easily grasp its size and depth.

The competition was judged by an independent panel of three experts: Ian Davis, Chief Technology Officer with Talis; Harry Halpin, researcher at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the W3C GRDDL working group; and Peter Mika, researcher at Yahoo! Research Barcelona and author of the book “Social Networks and the Semantic Web”. The first prize is an Amazon voucher for $4000; second prize is a voucher for $2000; third prize is a voucher for $1000.

My new job in Electronic Engineering! Will still collaborate with DERI…

Next month, I will begin a tenured lectureship position at the Department of Electronic Engineering here in the College of Engineering and Informatics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. However, I will still do joint research with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute, continuing (amongst other things) to work with the Social Software Unit (on SIOC, SCOT, etc.) and with the TripPlanr project. In my new role, I will also be researching with the NCBES Bioelectronics Research Cluster in NUI Galway.

For those of you who have just come across me and my blog as a result of my work with DERI, you may not know that my background was in electronic engineering, having studied it at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and I also lectured for four years full time in the Department of Electronic Engineering before joining DERI in 2004. When I joined DERI initially, I imagined that I would be working on some intersection between electronic engineering and the Semantic Web. In fact, I fell into the world of the Semantic Web and social software, after an interesting discussion about semantic social networks with Stefan Decker, who was a senior researcher in the Institute at the time. I realised that my “hobby” interests in creating community websites could be combined with interesting research challenges around the Semantic Web, and although I (and then director Dieter Fensel) was unsure about how I would fare in a new research area, I’m glad to say that it worked out okay! Now I’m back to thinking about the convergence between electronics and semantics again, with some social software thrown in the mix (e.g. wearable communities).

Below is a collage of some memories from the past four-and-a-half years: including the FOAF Galway workshop, a Semantic Web cluster meeting, ESWC and a DERI offsite meeting, Wikimania, DERI Stanford, BlogTalk, meeting timbl, BarCamp, DERI drinks, the ITAG awards, and our Social Software summer / christmas parties.

I’ve really enjoyed working with all the smart and cool people in DERI, and I shall continue to do so, while strengthening ties between the Institute and NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics through my new job. (It’s my last day before holidays, so if you’re in Galway this evening, we’re going out for a few drinks in the Westwood Hotel after work at 5:30…)

GalwayFirst.ie: Lost in Galway / Stars at Galway Film Fleadh

From Galway First:

Star Trek fans are called Trekkies, but watch out for the Lost-ies. Fans of the inexplicable and never-ending TV series are planning to come to Galway this week to honour the conferring of the star of several episodes of the series, who is receiving an honorary degree at NUI, Galway.

Fionnula Flanagan is an Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Irish actress. She trained in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and has appeared in numerous films, including The Others with Nicole Kidman, Transamerica and Waking Ned Devine, as well as television series and stage productions. She came to prominence in Ireland in 1965 as a result of her role as Máire in the Teilifís Éireann production of the Irish Language play, An Triail. Ms Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce in the 1967 film version of Ulysses.

But as far as fans of Lost are concerned, she will forever be that mysterious white-haired woman Ms Hawking who appeared in the “Flashes Before Your Eyes” of Lost. Message boards online pertaining to the series have revealed that dozens of Irish Lost fans are to come to Galway to congratulate her on her conferring.

So, if you see any black smoke, polar bears or see Mutton Island being moved mysteriously this Friday, don’t panic. It’s just all in a day’s happenings on Lost.

The honorary conferrings are on tomorrow here in NUI Galway. Funnily enough, I think the first thing I saw Fionnula Flanagan in was actually Star Trek (The Next Generation). But I loved her best in Paddywhackery on TG4 in her role as Peig Sayers!

In other news, it was announced yesterday that the 2008 Galway Film Fleadh will play host to some international stars including Peter O’Toole, Jessica Lange, (President!) Bill Pullman, and Alex Gibney, the 2008 Oscar winner for Best International Documentary.

Bits and pieces: SMOB 2nd Prize in SFSW / Drupal Ireland on Saturday / Wikipedia on OLPC

Semantic Microblogging wins 2nd prize in the Scripting for the Semantic Web challenge!

Alex tweeted from the SFSW workshop at the European Semantic Web Conference that our SMOB (distributed microblogging with semantics) prototype has won 2nd prize in the SFSW challenge. Congratulations and thanks to Alex, Tuukka and Uldis for all their hard work… Well done to Alex on also winning the best paper award at the SemWiki workshop – wow, what a great day for you!

Drupal Ireland Meetup 2008 on this Saturday in DERI

Stephane is organising the second Drupal Ireland Meetup for this Saturday in the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway (map). There will be presentations on the CCK, Views and ImageCache modules, Joomla2Drupal, theming, security, your first “Hello, World!” Drupal module, easy RDFS vocabulary publishing using Neologism, and maybe vBDrupal if I can manage it! You can sign up and find more details here.

Wikipedia iPhone app being ported to OLPC

Patrick Collison reports that the Wikipedia iPhone application he wrote for offline browsing of the Wikipedia is being ported to the One Laptop Per Child project… Excellent news!

Nova Spivack visits DERI, NUI Galway and talks about Twine: Radar Networks' semantic social software product in beta

20080325b.png In association with the IT Association of Galway, DERI recently invited Radar NetworksNova Spivack to speak at our research institute in the National University of Ireland, Galway (Nova also gave a keynote talk at BlogTalk 2008 in Cork).

Nova is CEO of one of the companies that is practically applying Semantic Web technologies to social software applications. Radar have a beta product called Twine which is a “knowledge networking” application that allows users to share, organise, and find information with people they trust. People create and join “twines” (community containers) around certain topics of interest, and items (documents, bookmarks, media files, etc., that can be commented on) are posted to these twines through a variety of methods. The seminar room was full of both “DERIzens” and members of Galway’s IT community for Nova’s talk on the Semantic Web and Twine (see his slides here), and after a lengthy question-and-answers session, this was followed by some presentations to Nova of ongoing research work in DERI.

20080325c.png I personally find Twine very interesting, and as well as using it to gather information about SIOC, I intend to use it to gather and publish personal interests that I think will be of interest to the public (once it leaves beta). As well as producing semantic data (just stick “?rdf” onto the end of any twine.com URL), Twine features some cool functionality that elevates it beyond the social bookmarking sites to which it has been compared, including an extensive choice of twineable item types, twined item customisation (“add detail”) and the “e-mail to a twine” feature, all of which I believe are extremely useful. (I have a few Twine invites left for readers of my blog; drop me an e-mail if you need one.)

There is also the community aspects of twines. I forsee that these twines will act as the “social objects” (see presentation by Jyri) that will draw you back to the service, in a much stronger manner than other social bookmarking sites currently do (due to Twine’s more viral nature, its stronger social networking functionality, better commenting, and a more identifiable “home” for these objects). Of course, having more public users will help, but from experience I know that it is a good idea to build on a core group of regular users (in Twine’s case, mainly techies) before increasing the user base too much.

It’s been an exciting few months in terms of announcements relating to commercial Semantic Web applications. As I mentioned recently in an interview with Rob Cawte for the web2.0japan.com blog, this is becoming obvious with the attention being given to startup companies in this space like Powerset, Metaweb (Freebase) and Radar Networks (Twine), and also since many big companies including Reuters (Calais API), Yahoo! (semantically-enhanced search) and Google (Social Graph API) have recently announced what they are doing with semantic data. There has been a lot of talk recently about the social graph (notably from Google’s Brad Fitzpatrick), which looks at how people are connected together (friends, colleagues, neighbours, etc.), and how such connections can be leveraged across websites. On the Semantic Web with vocabularies like FOAF, SIOC, etc., it is not just people who are connected together in some meaningful way, but documents, events, places, hobbies, pictures, you name it! And it is the commercial applications that exploit these connections that are now becoming interesting…

(Edit: Nova Spivack has blogged about his visit.)

DERI Entrepreneurial Forum #2 last week

We had a very interesting event in DERI last week – the DERI Entrepreneurial Forum #2 – where six CEOs from the west of Ireland gave us their views on entrepreurship. There was some frank sharing of professional and personal experiences on both starting and running a company in Ireland.

The speakers were Jan Blanchard, CEO of Tourist Republic; John Brosnan, CEO of Netfort Technologies; Greg Cawley, CEO of Traventec; Julian Ellison, CEO of Tablane; Alan Duggan, CEO of Nephin Games; and Karl Flannery, CEO of Storm.

I think it was very useful for buddying entrepreneurs in DERI to engage these CEOs and to exchange ideas about their “dos and do nots”. (We even got some book recommendations from Jan!)

(Aside: God, I hate it when Google do their link tracking stuff for searches. I just want to be able to right click and copy a link, not have to copy some text on a page or click through, CTRL+L and CTRL+C. Stop it Google, you have enough tracking information already!)