July Tech Meetup Edinburgh - Semantic Publishing and Flexpansion

06 August 2009

Another month and another extremely late write up of the meetup :) today Bill Roberts came to introduce us to Semantic Publishing/RDF, and Tim Willis came to talk about his startup Flexpansion.com.

Bill Roberts - Web of Data

Bill Roberts from swirrl.com came to talk about semantic publishing, and in particular RDF (Resource Description Framework).

He kicked off by explaining the concepts behind semantic publishing, which is producing data in way that allows computers, not just people, to extract meaning from it. Currently there are a hundreds of thousands of APIs being published by various sites, from Google Maps to Facebook API to Yahoo pipes. Each API is powerful, but they are different for each site, every time you need to use a different API you need to learn its individual standards.

RDF is an attempt to produce a common standard for those APIs so people can use data from multiple sites in the same way, for example to search and query, or to aggregate data.

Bill went through the basic of how RDF is structured, explained content negotiation and talked about tools to help work with and use RDF data. After his presentation there was a lot of discussion mostly revolving around the old adage “the problem with standard is that there are so many to choose from”.

Tim Willis – Flexpansion

The next talk was by Tim Willis of http://flexpansion.com(Flexible Abbreviation Expansion)

When typing on mobile/smart phones without a full keyboard, typing can often be awkward and slow, Flexpansion aims to speed up text input by allowing users to enter abbreviations and providing a list of completions to pick from. For example typing “abv8” could expand to “abbreviate”

There are a variety of techniques to provide the smartest completions that Tim explained. such as reading the semantics of a sentence and using suggestions that make sense (“of” follow by “the”), training the system to the common abbreviations a person uses and phonetic replacements (8 = ate for example).

After the talk Tim did a demo showing off the flexpansion system which was really nice, it trains to users quickly and the semantic analysis looked extremely useful.

Next Month

The next tech meetup in Edinburgh is scheduled for Wed, 12th Aug, 6.30pm and we have talks lined up from Kate Ho & Neelima Alluri on Programming Microsoft Surface and Ben Werdmuller on User-centered Web. Hope to see you there!



Bill Roberts talks about data on the web from TechMeetup on Vimeo.


Tim Willis talks about flexible text expansion from TechMeetup on Vimeo.