(Late) report on FOAF workshop

The FOAF workshop in Galway was almost 20 days ago, so the following report is a little bit late. Hope it can be useful at least as an historical memory.
It was fantastic to meet in flesh many people I just learnt to appreciate through their blogs. Many of the papers were very interesting. I especially like the idea of “Semantic cookies” (you keep your profile [as FOAF file] in a cookie and, with some trick, you give access to every site to it, sites can read it and give you a personalized experience) and “Bootstrapping the FOAF-Web: An Experiment in Social Network Mining” by Peter Mika (the idea is to use Google to infer social relationships among people). And there was also my paper of course. The presentation was so and so, I think I try to put too many concepts for a 15 minutes presentation. The only stuff I liked was the subtitle I wrote at the last second on the first slide: “Moleskiing: Climbing the peaks of FOAF”.
Almost half of the workshop was devoted to very interesting Breakout sessions.

They were self-organized sessions where everyone was free to propose a topic (writing it on a paper on the wall) and everyone was free to join any of the sessions. Then based on numbers of interested people and topics, organizers were trying to suggest putting together different sections, if needed. I guess the FOAF and Trust session should have interested me but I was busy creating the presentation I gave the day after and I miss almost all of it (remind for myself: always prepare slides before conference!)
Something very thrilling was also the use of a backchannel on IRC. Many of us were connected to the Internet via WiFI during the talks and we were discussing, adding links, writing down talks. It was the first time I was using such a parallel real-time discussion space and I seldom use IRC so it was a strange and new experience for me, a kind of “augmented” conference. And it was strange to read the IRC log of what was said on the IRC channel #foaf during my presentation.
I met very interesting people. In the picture you can see Marc Canter moving around data, as he said). Marc is really as you could imagine him from his blog, he really says “coolio” and the lesson he gave us about how to deal with venture capitalists in front of a Guinness (picture) was very insightful, or maybe it was just the Guinness I don’t remember… his foafnet effort is really worthwhile, check it and contribute to it as you can.
Meeting who began all this “I want my data back” movement was ipercool as well: Libby Miller and Dan Brickley (creator of the first version of FOAF format) are our real FOAF queen and king. You can check my pictures of the workshop or find more of them tagged as #foaf-galway on del.icio.us.
Moreover, now that I have some real <foaf:knows> relations I promise I’ll update very soon my FOAF file.
I also got 2 t-shirts so the goal I chose for the workshop was partially accomplished ;-)
Last thing I want to mention is: “never go to a restaurant in Galway!”. I spent 35 + 42 +65 euros for the dinner. Every time (but the second dinner in the castle) it was kind of self-organized. Of course the goal of a workshop is to stay with other people and discuss, share ideas so going back to the hostel or eat something alone in some very cheap place was not an option but next time I’ll be more reactive and suggest to everyone to go to cheaper places. The problem was that I was paying the workshop with my money and so almost 150 euros for 3 dinners were really too much for me! However I should mention that lunches were kindly offered by the DERI institute and that the hostel I found (sleepzone) was cheap enough (15 euros per night) and with free internet connection (8 computer with RedHat!) and free wireless connection to Internet as well.
All considered, it was a great workshop and I had fantastic time.

2 thoughts on “(Late) report on FOAF workshop

  1. Riccardo "Bru" Cambiassi

    Hi Paolo!
    I was definitely waiting for a post like this from yours ;)
    I’d really enjoyed being there… hopefully next time.
    In the meanwhile, why not talking about how to contribute to foafnet?

    Let’s keep in touch,

  2. paolo

    Whay do you have in mind? We could certainly try to unite many Italian bloggers and, as a group, contribute to foafnet by informing the general public and Italian enterprises. Or what do you have in mind?

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