I have just returned from the 10th International ISKO conference in Montreal, which was four days of excellent KO presentations. The pre-conference workshop was on SKOS and the conference itself included around 50 papers and a poster session. Some of my favourites were Knowledge and Trust in Epistemology and Social Software by Judith Simon, a Survey of the Top-level Categories in the Structure of Corporate Websites by Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, Deliberate Bias in Knowledge Organisation by Birger Hjorland, and Social Tagging and Communities of Practice by Edward Corrado and Heather Moulaison.
I’ll be writing up my conference notes and posting them here over the weekend.
The ISKO UK event Sharing vocabularies on the web via simple knowledge organisaton system (SKOS) was another roaring success, with great speakers and a very high calibre audience. If you’ve been reading up on knowledge organisation and want your books signed by the authors, an ISKO meeting is the place to go! The SKOS event, on Monday 21st July, was very detailed and technical, but understandable enough for novices to the subject to appreciate, and a great way of getting a handle on some of the key concepts. The first speaker was Alistair Miles from the University of Oxford who is using SKOS to get biological research (specifically into fruit flies) onto the semantic web. His colleague Antoine Isaac talked about transforming exisiting knowledge organisation systems into a semantic web format. Stella Dextre Clarke, Leonard Will, and Nicolas Cochard talked about the new British Standard (BS8723) for thesaurus creation that they have been compiling. It is in the process of being turned into an ISO standard. They also explained its relationship to SKOS. Ceri Binding and Douglas Tudhope from the University of Glamorgan then described their STAR project for managing archaeological information using SKOS. Finally Bernard Vatant from Mondeca explained that you don’t have to choose between SKOS and OWL - you can use both.
The event ended with a panel session for questions and answers and then networking over wine and nibbles.
I went to the ISKO UK conference Ranganathan Revisited on Monday sponsored by Factiva, which was very interesting indeed. There were 5 presentations - two on classification theory, a fascinating insight into how Factiva sort and output the thousands of news reports they process every day, an introduction to a very interesting new meta-analysis energy portal for monitoring trends in reporting, and a demonstration of Aduna’s Autofocus software that gives a visual representation of searches. One of the interesting and perennial themes that came up in conversations was the difference in approach of computer scientists from people with an information and library skills background. Some people seem to think of this as a battleground, but I like to think the best ideas emerge at the confluence of different paths.