One-off lecture Social Web

Around 40 students joined this year’s “bachelor’s for a day” for the VU IMM programme this year. As in previous years, I give a 45 minute lecture and construct a hands-on session around “The Social Web”. Each year I do a non-scientific survey of Social Web use among the -mostly- 17 year old attendees. This year’s outcome:

  • Everybody still uses Facebook (even though for the last couple of years, there are some murmurs about abandoning it
  • Everybody uses Whatsapp. No surprise there
  • More than half of the students use Snapchat.
  • About 1/4 of students use LinkedIn.
  • About 1/8 of students actively uses Twitter (one post in the last 3 months)
  • Most students have heard of Hyves, but noone ever used it
  • Almost noone has heard of Second Life 🙂
  • Noone heard of

You can find my slides below. The handson session can be found here.



CultuurLINK Linking Award

Happy and suprised to find the first (and so far only) CultuurLink Linking Award in my mail box yesterday! I checked with the nice people over at and it turns out it was a token of appreciation for being a prolific Cultuurlink user 🙂

I think the vocabulary alignment tool is great and easy to work with, so I can recommend it to anyone with a SKOS vocabulary who wants to match it with any of the major cultural thesauri in the ‘Hub’. Thanks to the people at Spinque for the great tool and the nice gesture!


BDE Webinar:  Big Data and the 7 Societal Challenges Out-of-the-box technology for the future

logo-BigDataEuropeAs the Big Data Europe project enters its second year, we’re doing everything we can to make it as simple as possible to get acquainted with the platform which is under development, and facilitate future deployments of our platform to support your Big Data pipelines.

We are therefore happy to introduce this quarterly series of technical webinars, where you can keep track of progress related to our technical developments and demonstrators in each of the seven societal challenges, ask questions, and provide valuable feedback. In addition, we will also cover other important developments in the area which are not necessarily related to our project.

Online Webinar: 02-03-2016, 14:00-15:00 CET

In the first webinar in this series, you will learn about:

  • the requirements we collected from the 7 Societal Challenges we are addressing
  • the technical building blocks of our Big Data Platform
  • how the above will be provided as a generic instance for customisation
  • an introduction to the 7 selected Pilot partners and the expected outcome

The one hour webinar is run by the Big Data Europe Project and presents inputs and presentations from experts responsible for the architecture, the implementation and the upcoming pilots roll-out. The audience will be given a chance to interact and the top questions will be answered by one of our dedicated technical and domain experts.

Registration is Free, click here register now!

We are looking forward to your participation.

Linked Data for International Aid Transparency Initiative

In August 2013, VU Msc. student Kasper Brandt finished his thesis on developing, implementing and testing a Linked Data model for the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). Now, more than a year later, that work was accepted for publication in the Journal on Data Semantics. We are very happy with this excellent result.

Model fragment

Model fragment

IATI is a multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparecy of development aid and to that end developed an open standard for the publication of aid information. Hundreds of NGOs and governments have registered to the IATI registry by publishing their aid activities in this XML standard. Taking the IATI model as an input, we have created a Linked Data model based on requirements elicitated from qualitative interviews using an iterative requirements engineering methodology. We have converted the IATI open data from a central registry to Linked Data and linked it to various other datasets such as World Bank indicators and DBPedia information. This dataset is made available for re-use at .

burundi country page

Screenshot of an application bringing together information from multiple datasets

To demonstrate the added value of this Linked Data approach, we have created several applications which combine the information from the IATI dataset and the datasets it was linked to.  As a result, we have shown that creating Linked Data for the IATI dataset and linking it to other datasets give new valuable insights in aid transparency. Based on actual information needs of IATI users, we were able to show that linking IATI data adds significant value to the data and is able to fulfill the needs of IATI users.

A draft of the paper can be found here.

WOP 2014 Workshop on Ontology and Semantic Web Patterns

This year, I co-organized the 5th edition of the Ontology Design Patterens workshop WOP2014 together with Aldo Gangemi, Krzysztof Janowicz and Agnieszka Lawrynowicz. It was co-located with ISWC2014 in Riva del Garda. WOP2014 was a full-day workshop which kicked off with a great keynote from Valentina Presutti. This was followed by presentations of 6 research papers, 2 “pattern” papers and 3 poster presentations. WOP2014 had about 40 attendees, which makes it a very successful edition of this workshop.

The proceedings of WOP2014 are available at

WOP2014 posters

Lively discussions during the WOP2014 poster sessions

WOP2014 audience

Part of the WOP2014 audience (in a nice and spatious room)

DIVE wins 3rd prize in Semantic Web Challenge!

During last week’s International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2014) in Riva del Garda, the DIVE team presented a demonstration prototype of the DIVE tool (which you can play around with live at . We submitted DIVE to the Open Track of the yearly Semantic Web Challenge for SW tools and applications. Initially, we were invited to give a poster presentation on the first day of the conference and after very positive reviews, we progressed to the challenge final.

Challenge 3rd place certificateFor this final we were asked to present the tool and give a live demonstration in front of the ISWC2014 crowd. Apparently the jury appreciated the effort since DIVE was awarded the third prize. The prize included a nice certificate as well as $1000,- sponsored by Elsevier.

This was a real team effort, but I think much of the praise goes to our partners at Frontwise. They built a very cool, very responsive and intuitive User Experience on top of our SPARQL endpoint. Great work! Also thanks to the people at Beeld en Geluid and KB for their assistance with delivering data in a timely fashion and of course the people at VU for their enrichment of the data. Great teamwork everyone! Embedded below you find the poster and the presentation. The paper is found here.

The presentation:

The poster:

Master Project Andrea Bravo Balado: Linking Historical Ship Records to Newspaper Archives

[This post was written by Andrea Bravo Balado and is cross-posted at her own blog. It describes her MSc. project supervised  by myself]

Linking historical datasets and making them available for the Web has increasingly become a subject of research in the field of digital humanities. In the Netherlands, history is intimately related to the maritime activity because it has been essential in the development of economic, social and cultural aspects of Dutch society. As such an important sector, it has been well documented by shipping companies, governments, newspapers and other institutions.

janwillemsen: foto Rotterdam historische schepen (click to view on flickr)In this master project we assume that, given the importance of maritime activity in every day life in the XIX and XX centuries, announcements on the departures and arrivals of ships or mentions of accidents or other events, can be found in newspapers.

We have taken a two-stage approach: first, an heuristic-based method for record linkage and then machine-learning algorithms for article classification to be used for filtering in combination with domain features. Evaluation of the linking method has shown that certain domain features were indicative of mentions of ships in newspapers. Moreover, the classifier methods scored near perfect precision in predicting ship related articles.

Enriching historical ship records with links to newspaper archives is significant for the digital history community since it connects two datasets that would have otherwise required extensive annotating work and man hours to align. Our work is part of the Dutch Ships and Sailors Linked Data Cloud project. Check out Andrea’s thesis[pdf].