Friday, 25 January 2013

EnviLOD user workshop at the British Library - a short summary

Today #EnviLOD ran a user workshop at the British Library on Linked Open Data for semantic enrichment and search of environmental science literature. We had 25 attendees, from diverse backgrounds.

The workshop started with Lee-Ann Coleman (Head of Scientific, Technical & Medical Information at British Library) telling us about the diverse activities at the library. It made me wish I were a PhD student again, so I can attend their special open days. I also decided to attend this Talkscience@BL event on Open Data in March. It would also be a great opportunity to catch up with the STM team, who I have really enjoyed working with in the past year.

Next Johanna Kieniewicz (the EnviLOD project lead at the British Library and environmental sciences research and engagement manager) spoke about the challenges of information discovery in environmental sciences, as well as the forthcoming beta of their Envia information discovery tool. I was also excited to discover that Johanna also blogs about art and science - an excellent reading on a Friday night with a glass of wine.

Major part of the morning session was devoted to #EnviLOD, where Johanna, Niraj, Mike, and I summarised our results on Linked Open Data (LOD), location-based search, semantic annotation/enrichment, and semantic search.  We showed a quick preview of the EnviLOD semantic search interface, which we had tried to design to be as intuitive as possible, so our users could avoid learning to write SPARQL queries.  Little did I expect that by the end of the afternoon session, there will be fearless environmental science researchers, keen to start editing the automatically generated SPARQL!

I was very excited to hear about work at the Environmental Information Data Centre (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) around open data and a SKOS-based thesaurus that they are building and linking to GeoNames and other LOD resources that we've been working with.

The afternoon session revolved around demonstrating the EnviLOD search interface live and then asking the workshop participants to try 3-4 semantic search queries and give us feedback. We are still to summarise and digest this for our deliverable on user feedback. Stay tuned!