Downscale 2012 – First International Workshop on Downscaling the Semantic Web

First International Workshop on Downscaling the Semantic Web – Crete, May 28th, in the pre-conference of ESWC 2012. Organized by Christophe Guéret and Stefan Schlobach from VUA and Florent Pigout, from OLPC.

Organizers and participants of the Downscale workshop 2012

The workshop brought together a group of computer scientists, experts in Semantic Web technologies. Although the general trend is upscaling, here, the notion is of downscaling, decentralizing, even reducing the Web of Data, for a special reason. The need for data sharing in the developing world is an important topic, especially the case of rural areas in Africa, and of schools in developing countries. Another area is disaster management, also presented here. In disaster, the amount of data is especially the issue, when rescue teams have to take fast decisions in situations that concern life and death. Here, downscaling is especially necessary to reduce the amount of data, and keep only what is relevant…
For developing countries, three topics were presented, where Linked Data can be applied: (i) Linked Market Data from rural communities in the Sahel, (ii) SemanticXO, linked data to share accross children’s computers that don’t have access to the internet, but still want to share data, and (iii) the Web of Radios, currently only a dream, but one that can become reality, positioning community radio an important future content provider in Africa.

At the conference, key-note speaker Abraham Bernstein argued that we should throw the Semantic Web into the garbage can. The audience was surprised with the answer, that they obviously had expected to be negative. On the contrary, Bernstein explained that he sees the garbage can as the place where theory and practice meet. With the metaphore in mind I thought how it would be to make this highly intellectual Semantic Web community, absorbed in theory, meet rural reality of a farmer community in Tominian, where most of the population cannot read and write. Would this meeting be useful for both groups? I mean, is it possible to bridge two worlds, making both groups learn from each other? Would it yield totally new insights? It was probably not these two extremes the keynote speaker and the conference participants had in mind, but it is an interesting experiment…


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