Friday, September 30, 2005

University Rankings in Ireland

The Shanghai Jiaotong University has published their yearly Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2005. Harvard University, University of Cambridge and Stanford University fill the first ranks - probably as expected. The University of Southern California has reached rank 50.

Only three Irish Universities are in the first 500 - Trinity College (rank 236). University College Cork (rank 458), and University College Dublin (459). My current employer, the National University of Ireland, Galway does not make the first 500 places (whereas Stanford, USC, and Karlsruhe do). The reason is not very hard to find - the ranking ist mostly based on research results and reputation, and NUIG has only started the transition into a research university.

However, the level of funding and activity inside NUIG is increasing - examples include the centers DERI and REMEDI, Alan Ryders' group or the National High-End Computing Centre, directed by Andy Shearer (all of them funded by Science Foundation Ireland), which increases the pressure on NUIG to transform itself into a service-oriented research university. The transformation naturally puts a lot of stress on the system and it is not without pain on every side. But the university is changing and more and more emphasis is given to research excellence.

To quote Iarnr√≥d √Čireann's (Irish Rail) advertising slogan: "We're not there yet, but we're getting there."

Monday, September 26, 2005

VOIP and the Semantic Web

The availability of VOIP implementations based on standards (like Asterik or even Java-based implementations will enable the integration of VOIP wither other applications. A paper by Tomas Vitvar discusses the integration of VOIP with Semantic Web Services. Also an interesting application will be the integration of VOIP with the Semantic Desktop. Consider a scenario where a user gets a call from a project collaborator. As soon as the call arrives metadata is extracted from the call (either implicit metadata (e.g., the callee) or explicit metadata (e.g., the project the call is related to) and relevant project information is openend and presented automatically, which establishes the context of the VOIP call. Part of this scenario can be realized without any changes to the SIP - other parts (e.g, the transmission of explicit metadata) may require protocol enhancements.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Social Semantic Web vs. Semantic Web Services

It is interesting to compare different visions for the future of the (Semantic) Web. There is vision looking at Semantic Web Services, which are an extension of Web Services with Semantic Web technology. This idea is usually focusing on flexible machine to machine communication for business aspects. There is another vision focusing on social aspects of the Web and the extension of human-human communication with Semantic Web technology. Based on research grants the former has been more in the focus of attention so far, but it seems we are seeing a shift towards the latter vision.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

How to run an Internet Company (or a Research Institute)

BusinessWeek has an article about "Troubling Exits At Microsoft", talking about empoyees leaving for other companies, e.g., Google. Especially a quote from Kai-Fu Lee about Google is interesting: "the culture is very supportive, collaborative, innovative, and Internet-like -- and that's bottoms-up innovation rather than top-down direction." Fostering bottoms-up innovation is also the way a Web technology research institute needs to be run.