A Valuable Challenge: Autotagging the Nation’s News at Gannett


News organizations are a prime candidate for the implementation of semantic technologies, but they also pose some of the most interesting challenges to semantic web professionals. After all, the news is dynamic — it’s happening right now, all around the world, and the same events are being reported on by an ever growing number of publishers in countless languages. The information contained within “the news” is an ever expanding glob that can’t be contained, so how can any organization hope to each even a semblance of organization?

For Gannett, the answer to that question is autotagging. With the help of Dan Segal, a Senior Taxonomist at Marcinko Enterprises, Gannett has been working to semantically categorize and tag their stockpile of information from their 82 US daily newspapers and 23 television stations, not to mention all of the breaking stories that add to that heap every day. Needless to say, tagging the news isn’t exactly an easy quest, but Gannett has several very good reasons to try. Read more

News Curation Platform Raises $2M

Steve O’Hear of TechCrunch reports, “Smallrivers, the Swiss startup behind news curation platform, has raised further funding: $2 million from Debioinvestment, and Polytech Ventures (co-founded by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies where SmallRivers is based), along with existing investors/shareholders, including Kima Ventures, and various European angels, as well as co-founder Edouard Lambelet. The new capital, which brings total funding to date to $7 million, will be used to consolidate revenue growth, with the aim to break even in the coming year, and deploy what is describing as a new ‘semantic analysis engine’ that will offer curators additional content discovery and filtering capabilities to make it even easier to build their own online newspapers.” Read more

Keep It Simple, Smarty: How the BBC Is Expanding Their Linked Data Platform

At the Semantic Technology and Business Conference last June in San Francisco, David Rogers of the BBC was on-hand to educate attendees on the origins and progress of the BBC’s impressive Linked Data Platform. In his presentation, Rogers — who serves as Senior Technical Architect for BBC Future Media (News & Knowledge) — explained how the news giant’s use of semantic technologies has evolved since they first turned to Linked Data to better report on the 2010 World Cup. Currently, the BBC Linked Data Platform works with content across the company, including news, sports, music, location, and learning.

Rogers started things off with a little history. Leading up to the 2010 World Cup, the BBC wanted to create a sports website, and they found that RDF triplestores were the best way to connect and organize their player, team, and tournament information. Pleased with what they’d accomplished, the BBC amped things up a few notches for the 2012 Olympics. Everything got scaled up, their data became more dynamic, and all while relying on the simplest metadata possible. Before the Olympics, the BBC Sports website had information on 300 athletes. By the end, 1,100 athletes were covered semantically, allowing the BBC’s vast pool of reporters to all draw upon the same data and interlink their content in an easily discoverable manner. Read more

The Potential of the News Storyline Ontology

Our own Jenny Zaino recently discussed the development of the News Storyline Ontology. Now, Robin Pembrooke of the BBC has more on how the new ontology is being used at the BBC. He writes, “The BBC believes in distributing its work to the wider industry in order to benefit users and other online publishers. One aspect of this is the thinking around the use of metadata in BBC News stories, how we tag our articles, pictures and video clips to make our content easier to find and more accessible. This year a group of like-minded data architects from a number of UK publishers, including The Guardian and The Press Association, have been informally working on a data model that supports how stories like these are told and they’ve found a lot of common ground in their thinking.” Read more

News360 Hopes to Replace Google Reader With Something Better


Chris Crum of Web Pro News recently wrote, “Google Reader is almost officially dead. Just a few more short weeks, and it will be gone forever (it goes away on July 1st, in case you needed a reminder). Since Google broke users’ hearts back in March, announcing the product’s demise, other companies have been rushing to provide an adequate replacement for users who aren’t willing to give up RSS. Sure, there were already alternatives, but Google’s announcement lit a fire underneath them and others looking to create new products, as the opportunity was created for them to obtain a lot of new users. One potential replacement that has been around for quite a while, News360, is taking a somewhat different approach than some of the others like Feedly and Digg. Interestingly, their philosophy is similar to Google’s when it comes to the changing landscape of how people consume their news.” Read more

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2013

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logoToday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), and there are programs taking place all around the world from Bangalore, India to Washington, DC. The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with different disabilities.

GAAD is the brainchild of Joe Devon, a Los Angeles based technologist and entrepreneur. Devon says, “The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.”

Last year, I wrote a piece about the inaugural Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), and the strong connections between Semantic Web and Assistive Technology. Or rather, I posited that there were connections that were inherent, but not being maximized, or even explored.

One year later, I’m very pleased to report that things are progressing! There are now formal efforts to connect Semantic and Assistive Technologies.

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New Competition Lets You Vote For The MOOC You’d Like To See Produced

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are gaining greater ground. Earlier this year we looked at some semantics-related MOOCs of study from outfits like Coursera, edX and Udacity. Since then, news has gone around about some other MOOC opportunities (albeit not necessarily with semantic course offerings), such as MOOC2Degree, Canvas Network, CourseSites, Udemy and Thinkful. The Hasso Plattner Institute also is involved with its openHPI courses, including coverage of semantic web technologies.

Now, word comes that Iversity, which offers its own MOOC platform, and the Foundation for German Science are sponsoring a competition to produce ten MOOCs, five courses for the winter term 2013/14 and five courses for the summer semester 2014. Winners will get  25,000 Euro grants each towards production. The MOOC Production Fellowship selection process is being managed by Iversity, as is the subsequent course production.

About 250 concepts for online courses have been submitted so far, and Internet users have up until May 23 to cast their votes for the ones they view as particularly interesting and groundbreaking. A list of submissions is here.

The categories range from linguistics and cultural studies to interdisciplinary work to natural and computer sciences. The entries include courses focused on semantic, social analytics and related technologies:

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ISWC 2013 to Take Place in Sydney

The 2013 International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC) is coming to Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, October 21- 25 2013.  “The weather should be warming up beautifully for spring,” says  local chair Kerry Taylor, “and I’d like to promise you sunny days and sparkling views. The first two days, Monday and Tuesday will be held at the Sydney Masonic Centre, an architecturally-significant  ‘new brutalist’  building in the southern CBD. Wednesday to Friday will be held at the Sydney Conference and Exhibition Centre, in the tourist precinct of  Darling Harbour, with views over the water and the city.  Summer Daylight Saving will have begun, so you can enjoy the evenings too after each day of intense  scientific exchange.”

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Summly Acquired by Yahoo! for $30M – And What’s the Real Value?

John Abell of GMA News recently told the story of Summly, a company developed by 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio and sold to Yahoo! for $30 million. Abell writes, “D’Aloisio’s youth—he’s 17—and windfall are interesting data points, even if all the work behind the magic algorithm isn’t the sole product of this high schooler’s brain. Like all really good ideas, Summly’s is simple: Anything can be summarized, but by having a computer do it,  the number of things you can summarize—and the speed with which it can be done—are massively increased. As an app, it filtered news stories and—Presto Chango!—spit out the CliffsNotes version, optimized for a smartphone’s tiny screen (and our infinitesimal attention span).” Read more

Trento’s ICT Days – Semantics for All

[Editor's Note: This guest post is from Antonia Bradford, who attended "ICT Days" in Trento Italy, and offered this report.]

Trento, ItalyTrento, Italy, hosted a technology conference ‘ICT Days 2013’ between 20th and 23rd March. Like all such events it was interesting, dynamic and informative, but it was also quite different from the normal conferences.

It broadcast a very loud message that Semantic Technology, Big Data, and the interconnectivity of things will – without any doubt – affect everything and everyone; that these technologies will change the way everyone interacts with public services, the way in which dwindling natural resources are distributed and managed, the way citizens interact with each other, the way in which public and private bodies cooperate to support the needs of the citizen and the way in which public bodies are monitored and held accountable to the people that elected them.

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