Category Archives: NUI Galway

Book launch for "The Social Semantic Web"

We had the official book launch of “The Social Semantic Web” last month in the President’s Drawing Room at NUI Galway. The book was officially launched by Dr. James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway. The book was authored by myself, Dr. Alexandre Passant and Prof. Stefan Decker from the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway (sponsored by SFI). Here is a short blurb:

Web 2.0, a platform where people are connecting through their shared objects of interest, is encountering boundaries in the areas of information integration, portability, search, and demanding tasks like querying. The Semantic Web is an ideal platform for interlinking and performing operations on the diverse data available from Web 2.0, and has produced a variety of approaches to overcome limitations with Web 2.0. In this book, Breslin et al. describe some of the applications of Semantic Web technologies to Web 2.0. The book is intended for professionals, researchers, graduates, practitioners and developers.

Some photographs from the launch event are below.

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Another successful defense by Uldis Bojars in November

Uldis Bojars submitted his PhD thesis entitled “The SIOC MEthodology for Lightweight Ontology Development” to the University in September 2009. We had a nice night out to celebrate in one of our favourite haunts, Oscars Bistro.

Jodi, John, Alex, Julie, Liga, Sheila and Smita
Jodi, John, Alex, Julie, Liga, Sheila and Smita

This was followed by a successful defense at the end of November 2009. The examiners were Chris Bizer and Stefan Decker. Uldis even wore a suit for the event, see below.

I will rule the world!
I will rule the world!

Uldis established a formal ontology design process called the SIOC MEthodology, based on an evolution of existing methodologies that have been streamlined, experience developing the SIOC ontology, and observations regarding the development of lightweight ontologies on the Web. Ontology promotion and dissemination is established as a core part of the ontology development process. To demonstrate the usage of the SIOC MEthodology, Uldis described the SIOC project case study which brings together the Social Web and the Semantic Web by providing semantic interoperability between social websites. This framework allows data to be exported, aggregated and consumed from social websites using the SIOC ontology (in the SIOC application food chain). Uldis’ research work has been published in 4 journal articles, 8 conference papers, 13 workshop papers, and 1 book chapter. The SIOC framework has also been adopted in 33 third-party applications. The Semantic Radar tool he initiated for Firefox has been downloaded 24,000 times. His scholarship was funded by Science Foundation Ireland under grant numbers SFI/02/CE1/I131 (Líon) and SFI/08/CE/I1380 (Líon 2).

We wish Uldis all the best in his future career, and hope he will continue to communicate and collaborate with researchers in DERI, NUI Galway in the future.

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Haklae Kim and his successful defense in September

This is a few months late but better late then never! We said goodbye to PhD researcher Haklae Kim in May of this year when he returned to Korea and took up a position with Samsung Electronics soon afterward. We had a nice going away lunch for Haklae with the rest of the team from the Social Software Unit (picture below).

Sheila, Uldis, John, Haklae, Julie, Alex and Smita
Sheila, Uldis, John, Haklae, Julie, Alex and Smita

Haklae returned to Galway in September to defend his PhD entitled “Leveraging a Semantic Framework for Augmenting Social Tagging Practices in Heterogeneous Content Sharing Platforms”. The examiners were Stefan Decker, Tom Gruber and Philippe Laublet. Haklae successfully defended his thesis during the viva, and he will be awarded his PhD in 2010. We got a nice photo of the examiners during the viva which was conducted via Cisco Telepresence, with Stefan (in Galway) “resting” his hand on Tom’s shoulder (in San Jose)!

Philippe Laublet, Haklae Kim, Tom Gruber, Stefan Decker and John Breslin
Philippe Laublet, Haklae Kim, Tom Gruber, Stefan Decker and John Breslin

Haklae created a formal model called SCOT (Social Semantic Cloud of Tags) that can semantically describe tagging activities. The SCOT ontology provides enhanced features for representing tagging and folksonomies. This model can be used for sharing and exchanging tagging data across different platforms. To demonstrate the usage of SCOT, Haklae developed the int.ere.st open tagging platform that combined techniques from both the Social Web and the Semantic Web. The SCOT model also provides benefits for constructing social networks. Haklae’s work allows the discovery of social relationships by analysing tagging practices in SCOT metadata. He performed these analyses using both Formal Concept Analysis and tag clustering algorithms. The SCOT model has also been adopted in six applications (OpenLink Virtuoso, SPARCool, RelaxSEO, RDFa on Rails, OpenRDF, SCAN), and the int.ere.st service has 1,200 registered members. Haklae’s research work was published in 2 journal articles, 15 conference papers, 3 workshop papers, and 2 book chapters. His scholarship was funded by Science Foundation Ireland under grant numbers SFI/02/CE1/I131 (Líon) and SFI/08/CE/I1380 (Líon 2).

We wish Haklae all the best in his future career, and hope he will continue to communicate and collaborate with researchers in DERI, NUI Galway in the future.

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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.

IET and CompSoc present a talk on the "Social Semantic Web" on 27th November

The Social Semantic Web

Speaker: Dr. John Breslin, Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway
Date and Time: 27th November 2008, 18:15
Venue: DERI, IDA Business Park, Dangan, Galway – useamap.com/deri

Open to the public, no attendance fee

The Social Web – social networking services, blogs and wikis – has captured the attention of millions of users as well as billions of dollars in investment and acquisition. As more social websites form around the connections between people and their objects of interest, more intuitive methods are needed for representing and navigating the content in these sites. Also, to better enable user access to multiple sites, interoperability among social websites is required. This talk will describe the semantic technologies that can be used to interconnect both people and objects on the Social Web.

John Breslin, BE (Electronics), PhD, MIET – www.johnbreslin.org

John Breslin is a lecturer at the Department of Electronic Engineering in the College of Engineering and Informatics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is also an associate researcher and leader of the Social Software Unit at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway, the world’s largest Semantic Web research institute. He is the founder of the SIOC project, which aims to interlink online community sites using semantic technologies, and which has been deployed in over 50 applications including Yahoo! SearchMonkey. The Irish Internet Association presented him with Net Visionary awards in 2005 and 2006 for the Irish community website boards.ie, which he co-founded in 2000.

For further information contact: Mark on 087 1251858 / mneedham@theiet.org
or the Institution of Engineering and Technology Ireland Network.

Upcoming events of interest…

  • For those in Ireland or abroad who are interested in the Semantic Web, the 2nd Vocabulary Camp (VoCamp Galway for short) will be held in Galway on the 25th and 26th of November in DERI. VoCamp is an informal (free) event where people can learn about or create lightweight vocabularies / ontologies for the “web of data”. Places are limited to 30, so you should sign up quickly if interested…
  • The next day (27th of November at 6 PM), I’ll be giving a talk for the IET and CompSoc on the Social Semantic Web in DERI. As I’m currently co-authoring a book on this topic, it’s a good time to discuss this area.
  • Finally, the W3C Workshop on the Future of Social Networking will be held on the 15th and 16th of January next in the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. The deadline for submitting position papers is on the 20th of November, but position papers don’t have to be long or complex: a one-page description of your views on the current needs of the industry would be a very useful contribution to this workshop.

Tales from the SIOC-o-sphere #8

20080403a.png It’s time for another installment from the world of SIOC!

Previous SIOC-o-sphere articles:

#7 http://sioc-project.org/node/328
#6 http://sioc-project.org/node/310
#5 http://sioc-project.org/node/294
#4 http://sioc-project.org/node/272
#3 http://sioc-project.org/node/271
#2 http://sioc-project.org/node/138
#1 http://sioc-project.org/node/79

If you wish to contribute to the next article, join the SIOC Twine and use the tag “siocosphere9” when you add items.

What I'm up to…

It’s been a few weeks since my last confession so here goes…

I started teaching last week – so far it’s going well – I teach EE109 Fundamentals of Electronic Engineering to first year Engineering and Information Technology students. The class is pretty big and there’s no common timeslot so it means I have to teach the material twice, but as both halves alternate between being the first recipients of material, I think it balances out pretty well. We also started the associated first year labs yesterday morning, and both final year and third year projects have been assigned so things are pretty busy.

The week before last, I was in UCD for a one-day workshop organised by staff and researchers with the Intel-sponsored TRIL Centre (Technology Research for Independent Living). We had an interesting session describing the BioMOBIUS platform, which builds on work from the EyesWeb project. My colleagues in the Bioelectronics Research Cluster are associate researchers with TRIL.

Last week, some of us from the College of Engineering and Informatics visited the new Cisco R&D facility here in Galway. It’s pretty impressive. Cisco have 140 people in Galway, mainly developers and testers, with a majority of R&D staff. Their big focus in Galway is on “Unified Communications and Collaboration” (data, voice, video, IM, etc.), and real-time sharing of video content. Their TelePresence demo is really amazing. It’s a conference room where the table almost blends into three huge screens that show the remote participants in the correct proportion to where they’d sit at the table. The audio also moves with the people as they move across the room. You can see some demos here and here.

I’m still carrying out research in DERI for about a half to one day a week, where I meet my students and researchers in my role as leader of the Unit for Social Software. We’ve been taking part in forthnightly (public) telecons regarding the SWAN SIOC joint initiative, looking at synergies between SIOC and Semantic Web Applications in Neuromedicine (with Tim Clark and his team from Harvard). I was also in DERI briefly yesterday for a meeting with some researchers from Microsoft in Redmond.

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…)