JISC dev8D conference 2009

I spent a couple of days last week at the JISC dev8D “un-conference” (see http://code.google.com/p/developerhappinessdays/) and gave a talk on building semantic web applications. The slides are at http://www.slideshare.net/jhigman/semantic-web-applications.

Some of the highlights for me from the lightning talks were Georgi Kobilarov of the Freie Universität Berlin, and George Kroner from Blackboard.

Georgi Kobilarov gave a great description of Linked Open Data, why it matters, and how dbpedia make use of it – specifically, for powering the tagging vocabulary of BBC data so that cross-site connections can be automatically made. Nice to have real-world examples of the strength of LOD, and it points the way for more uses of the dbpedia data set.

George Kroner  talked about the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability APIs in the latest version of Blackboard. The APIs are also implemented by Sakai, so (in theory, at least) plugins for one will work in the other. I haven’t seen any examples of it in practice, but hopefully will soon. (More in-depth discussion at http://mfeldstein.com/connecting-blackboard-to-sakai-and-moodle/).

Thursday 12th included some discussion sessions about VLEs (Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai) and about using collaborative tools (Google Docs, VOIP, MediaWiki). Both were enlightening, though the fact that SOAS have moved their entire email and collaboration infrastructure to Google Docs caused some heated(-ish) debate about the dangers of concentrating even more data in the hands of Google. No firm conclusions were reached..!

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