I've written before about the importance of events that move us past introspection and academic debate, and bring the real benefits of semantic technologies to a wider business audience. As the Semantic Web Gang discussed recently, North America has had the excellent Semantic Technology Conference for several years, and this year gained Linked Data Planet (now transmogrified to become Web 3.0). For those who couldn't attend, Eric Franzon offers an organiser's view of this year's Semantic Technology Conference in the latest issue of Nodalities Magazine... and looks forward to 2009.
Europe has long been the powerhouse of Semantic Web research, with centres of global excellence such as DERI, Southampton, the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute, Karlsruhe, and others; research funding from the bottomless coffers of the European Commission; and an early recognition from European companies such as BT, Vodafone and (my employer) Talis that R&D investment would reap dividends in this area.
Europe has been less good, though, at transferring some of this excellence from the lab to the office, with a rather insular community of researchers tending to talk to one another at events such as the annual European Semantic Web Conference rather than turning to the real markets where their innovations might usefully be scaled and monetised.
About to run for the second year, the European Semantic Technology Conference is attempting to change that with an event to be held in Vienna, Austria, from 24-26 September.
Conference chair John Davies (yes, the same John Davis from the previous post...) commented;
"After several years researching and developing the required standards (e.g. XML, RDF and OWL), semantic technology is increasingly finding its way out of research labs and into real world applications. Large vendors such as Yahoo! and Oracle, along with a whole host of VC-funded start-ups including Ontoprise, Hakia, Ontotext, Twine and many more are incorporating semantic technology in the their products and services. In addition, significant end-user organisations such as Thomson-Reuters and Astra-Zeneca are reporting the benefits of deploying the technology in business applications. ESTC aims to make the experience and learning of such organisations available to others, to explain the business benefits and to accelerate the uptake of this important new technology."
"Semantic technology has the potential to completely change the way enterprises work. There is a significant amount of research and development underway in Europe, but more European businesses should seize the opportunity and apply it to solve real life problems. We want the conference to encourage this and play a major role in setting the industry’s agenda for 2009 and beyond."
The usual suspects will doubtless attend, despite a flurry of 'semantic' conferences in Europe this year. The trick will be to attract new audiences and carry those conversations out of the echo-chamber and into the mainstream. Having Vienna as a venue will, doubtless, help.