Organic Agriculture in Budapest

I was in Budapest on 16th and 17th September, presenting at the final conference of the Organic.Edunet project – International Conference on IT Enhanced Organic, Agro-Ecological and Environmental Education. This was a three year EU funded project to develop a multi-lingual, federated repository of e-learning materials in organic agriculture and agro-ecology. It also developed and implemented scenarios for use of the materials in schools and universities in some of the partner countries.

Presentation on OA and RSP

It was a packed and varied programme with presentations about advances in organic agriculture, educational and e-learning initiatives, repositories and information technologies. It was fascinating to hear about the challenges of providing education in an agricultural context, particularly in the developing world. Also, I learnt some interesting facts such as 20% of Romania’s organic production is honey!

My presentation was part of a session on Open Access Agricultural Repositories and I spoke about Open Access in the United Kingdom and of course about the RSP. I shared the platform with colleagues from the University of Alcala, Spain who outlined their proposals for broadening the scope of open sharing. They referenced the CERIF schema and are developing a model which combines ontologies of research work with an open linked data approach. The third presentation from the Technological Educational Institute of Athens described the VOA3R Project which is developing a platform which aims to re-use existing metadata and semantics technology to retrieve open content and data. The final speaker from FAO described their work in developing metadata standards and controlled vocabularies and their work with repositories such as DSpace. They encourage the use of Linked Data and this theme was further developed in a workshop later in the day.

It was a stimulating (if exhausting) two days and we also had time for social events including a dinner in the very grand Hungarian Academy of Sciences, serenaded by traditional folk musicians and served by staff in white gloves. The view from the window looking out onto the Danube and the Palace Hill on the Buda side was beautiful. And it had the biggest internal doors I’ve ever come across – I had to reach up for the door handles! I really valued the opportunity to spread the word about OA in the UK and to meet up with project colleagues I’d worked with over three years and count as friends as much as co-partners.

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ISKO-UK Conference on Linked Data

Group of elderly congregants dancing outside Tifereth B'nai Jacob Synagogue in North Minneapolis

Yesterday I attended the ISKO-UK one-day conference on Linked Data. I have to admit to attending with an interest (what will be the impact of Linked Data on institutional repositories?) but also a degree of scepticism. The Semantic Web/Linked Data movement is about ten years old now – ten years that I spent in commercial web companies with some high profile clients but never once had a query regarding Linked Data. We all know about the growth of the web in its first ten years but Linked Data seems to be finding it harder to catch on. Perhaps this is because there doesn’t yet seem to be a compelling commercial application. It was telling that the commercial companies on the attendees list were generally Linked Data service providers, not commercial companies looking to find out what Linked Data can do for their company. I think one of the main drivers of growth for the web was that companies realised that they could use it to make money and it isn’t clear, to me at least, how this applies to Linked Data at the moment.

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